Green hydrogen for industry

Industrial scale greend hydrogen and decarbonization

Sandwiched between the North and Baltic seas, Schleswig-Holstein is considered to have great potential for generating clean wind energy. Boasting an installed turbine capacity of around 6.7 gigawatts onshore and 1.8 gigawatts offshore, and a nearly 37 percent renewable energy share in total final consumption (122 percent in gross electricity use), Germany’s northernmost state is well above the national average. Its 2025 aim is to have renewables contribute up to 65 percent to state-wide energy generation. And by 2050, the North Sea and its coastal areas could be home to Europe’s largest clean energy system – ideal prospects for kicking off a real hydrogen economy.

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The Heide region’s natural features, strong winds and underground caverns, and an innovative business alliance form the basis for the production and use of green hydrogen as part of WESTKÜSTE100 and its follow-on projects. The key aims of WESTKÜSTE100 are to install and operate a 30-megawatt electrolyzer to produce green hydrogen from renewables, prepare an underground storage cavern, and put up a grid for delivering the gas.

The project takes a holistic approach to energy generation. This means that it will use the oxygen released by electrolysis to generate, via combustion processes at a cement factory in Lägerdorf, highly pure carbon dioxide, a raw material for basic chemicals and synthetic fuels. To this end, the project members will investigate how to synthesize green methanol from green hydrogen and the cement works’ green carbon dioxide.

The goal of WESTKÜSTE100 is to link three electrolysis products – hydrogen, oxygen and waste heat – via several side pathways and branches with the end of the production chain at e-fuels. As a result, stakeholders will need to find the most suitable methods for handling the technical and business aspects of these material flows while factoring in local conditions. The project consortium thus decided that it will also develop sustainable operating systems and business models for value chain components in order to address the chicken-and-egg dilemma faced by those introducing new technologies to the market.

A separate work package will cover socio-economic questions related to transformative changes in society and give recommendations on regulatory improvements. This is necessary because the success of green hydrogen production in Germany will depend on whether the technology grows into a social mainstay and can be operated under a sensible legal framework. Another key research task will be to draw on the results of plant operation for drafting a plan that can be used to scale the 30-megawatt system to 700 megawatts to make all of the cement works’ processes more eco-friendly.

On Aug. 1, the German economy and energy ministry approved the grant request by the project partners after a thorough yet speedy consultation process. WESTKÜSTE100 is scheduled to run for five years. In addition to EUR 30 million in public incentives, the partners will provide approximately EUR 53 million in funds. Work has already started following the rapid creation of an organizational structure.

Features

WESTKÜSTE100 is part of ENTREE100, which envisions an area powered entirely by renewables. The northern German Heide region’s development agency has spent 10 years to get this venture off the ground. It will now gradually implement several measures to bring Heide closer to its zero-carbon goals. Key objectives are to have an entire city block run on clean energy, through QUARREE100, synthesize kerosene, via KEROSyN100, create a primary control center, as part of MESH100, and support these efforts by conducting research on power-to-x projects ranging from grid integration to building systems, during CAMPUS100. Other ideas, such as creating a power-to-x business park to establish a frequent technology and knowledge transfer between businesses and research institutes, are under development.

Besides local activities, the industrial partners in WESTKÜSTE100 are working on related ventures to prepare for the large-scale application of the project’s findings. The project’s second distinctive characteristic is its overall purpose. The 12 consortia chosen to establish living labs for climate change are planning to put up 300 megawatts by 2025, a relatively low figure compared to the…

read more in H2-international October 2020

Authors:

Professor Michael Berger, Dirk Burmeister and Martin Eckhard

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