Hydrogen strategy: three northern countries become a real laboratory

The energy transition in the north is entering a new phase. Around 50 partners from business, science and politics want to show with 25 projects that hydrogen can play the key role for a carbon dioxide-free energy supply in the future. As part of the North German Real Laboratory, investments of 355 million euros are planned in the next few years, of which 122 million euros as state funding. This was announced by project manager Werner Beba on Sunday in Hamburg, according to the dpa news agency.

Job market

  1. BfS Federal Office for Radiation Protection, Freiburg
  2. Stadtwerke München GmbH, Munich

In contrast to the predecessor project North German Energy Transition (NEW 4.0), not only Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein are involved, but also Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania for the first time. Twelve large demonstration plants and projects are planned for the production and use of “green”, ie regeneratively produced hydrogen. “It’s about a holistic transformation of the energy system”said Beba. Already within the project, more than 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) are to be saved each year. The aim is to show the development path how 75 percent of the region’s CO2 emissions can be saved by 2035.

Nationwide and regional hydrogen strategies

The northern German federal states of Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein decided in November 2019 on a joint hydrogen strategy. Accordingly, the capacities for the generation of hydrogen by electrolysis are to be expanded. For this purpose, electricity from renewable sources should be used, such as wind power from offshore plants.

The North German Real Laboratory also fits into the federal government’s hydrogen strategy, which was presented on June 10, 2020. Hydrogen should not only be used as a fuel in the transport sector, but as a universal energy source, generated with green electricity, in all economic sectors. This sector coupling is intended to open up new usage paths for hydrogen, particularly in industry. This is intended to provide economic impetus for the development of a hydrogen economy. “We need a deep understanding of the systems and processes for this”said Beba.

The planned projects are expected to start next year. They concern mobility and traffic, for example the use of hydrogen buses, but also the supply of heat to households in Hamburg and, above all, several large industrial applications. One of the largest projects is the construction of an electrolysis with a capacity of 25 megawatts in the port of Hamburg by the energy company Hansewerk. “Industry is responsible for around a quarter of CO2 emissions”said Hansewerk boss Matthias Boxberger, who also heads the Hamburg Industry Association (IVH).

H + R is a major buyer of hydrogen, which produces special chemicals and products primarily from crude oil. There you can still see some need for action. “The state-made electricity price components are a disadvantage in international competition”said Detlev Wösten from H + R. The regulations on the energy markets must be changed so that the use of hydrogen becomes economical. “Our system makes the technology expensive, so taxes and duties have to be put to the test.”

The previous project NEW 4.0 should be completed by the end of the year. It should show that Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein are mathematically (“on balance”) could be supplied together with electricity generated from renewable sources. The final report for the project is already in the works, said Beba. In addition to the regional expansion to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, a major difference of the new project is that it is not limited to the electricity sector, but rather focuses on the energy supply for all areas of the economy.

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