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Germany: Pilot Projects as the backbone of the National Hydrogen Strategy

Even though there are several challenges facing the integration of hydrogen into Germany’s market, nonetheless there are many innovative pilot-projects that have been planned, revised, and implemented within the framework of Germany’s National Hydrogen strategy. These hydrogen projects originate from different private companies, state owned enterprises, and academic institutions, but are all approved and subsidised by the German state. This article presents details about two of these state sponsored projects below.


‘Green Wilhelmshaven’ by Uniper

The Swedish energy company Uniper was recently the focus of media attention due to its complete takeover by the state of Germany. Uniper was nationalised because it suffered from high financial losses. These losses resulted from increasing energy costs after natural gas exports from the Russian Federation to multiple European countries were stopped. However, Uniper’s recent actions to participate in the green energy transition within Europe are noteworthy. In particular, Uniper has made hydrogen play a vital role in its strategy for a sustainable world, and the company is running pilot-projects that apply use of the element within the industry and energy sectors.


One of these projects is the ‘Green Wilhelmshaven’ in Northern Germany. This planned hub consists of an offshore wind-park, an import terminal for green ammonia, facilities for the reconversion of ammonia to green hydrogen, and hydrogen storing facilities (Uniper, 2022). Ammonia’s high volumetric energy density, low production costs, and good storability make it one of the most attractive means of transporting hydrogen (Uniper, 2022). The ‘Green Wilhelmshaven’ project makes good use of these benefits; a centrepiece of the project includes the construction of an installation for the treatment of ammonia, which would be the first large-scale plant of its kind. For storing hydrogen produced at the plant, Uniper will rely on the existing infrastructure in Krummhörn near the town of Wilhelmshaven (The Maritime Executive, 2022). There, Uniper will oversee the construction and operation of a new salt cavern specifically built for hydrogen storage at the already existing natural gas storage facility, which has not been operational since 2017 (The Maritime Executive, 2022). The commissioning of this plant with a storage volume of up to 250,000 cubic meters of hydrogen is planned for 2024. In general, the whole hub would be capable of supplying around 295,000 metric tons or 10% of the hydrogen demand expected for the whole of Germany in 2030 (Uniper, 2022).

Figure: Germany: Pilot Projects as the backbone of the National Hydrogen Strategy, Source: Uniper, 2022 & Westküste 100, 2022


‘Westküste 100’

In 2019, a joint consortium consisting of among others, the University of FH Westküste, the French energy company of the EDF Group, and the German industrial company Thyssen Krupp submitted a project concept for the application of green hydrogen called ‘Westküste 100’ to the German Federal Ministry of Economics (Westküste 100, 2022).

The Project is located in the northern German region of Schleswig Holstein and is a ‘real-laboratory’, meaning that it is a project aiming for constant development and real-time optimization (NDR, 2021). The first step of the project plan is to install a hydrogen-producing electrolysis power plant with a capacity of thirty megawatts. This first facility will provide insight into the operation, maintenance, control, and grid serviceability of such plants and will serve as a model for the construction of further, larger facilities of a similar kind. The project envisages that in the future all these electrolysis plants will be powered by wind energy and produce green hydrogen. The long-term goal of ‘Westküste 100’ is to scale-up the output of green hydrogen so that it can be used in the heavy industry, energy, and transportation sectors of the region, and eventually throughout Germany (Westküste 100, 2022).


Sources:

NDR. 2021. "Westküste 100": Die Idee vom CO2-freien Heizen, https://www.ndr.de/nachrichten/schleswig-holstein/Westkueste-100-Die-Idee-vom-CO2-freien-Heizen,westkueste104.html.

The Maritime Executive. 2022. Uniper Proceeding with Pilot Hydrogen Storage Project in Germany​, https://maritime-exevcutive.com/article/uniper-proceeding-with-pilot-hydrogen-storage-project-in-germany.

Uniper. 2022. Green Wilhelmshaven​, https://www.uniper.energy/projects-and-cases/green-wilhelmshaven.

Westküste 100. 2022. Complete sector coupling: Green hydrogen and decarbonisation on an industrial scale, https://www.westkueste100.de/en/.