German energy company Uniper has begun a feasibility study into establishing a German national hydrogen hub at Wilhelmshaven in Germany.
So-called ‘green Wilhelmshaven will include an import terminal for green ammonia, an ammonia cracker for producing green hydrogen, and a 410 MW electrolysis plant. The ammonia cracker will be the first scaled plant of its kind.
In total, the hub would be able to supply around 295,000 tonnes of hydrogen, equivalent to 10% of the expected demand in Germany in 2030 and offering security of supply. Uniper plans to commission the new terminal in the second half of this decade, depending on the import demand and export opportunities. The company says it will be possible to feed hydrogen from the hub into Germany’s national hydrogen network, but it is expected to be used largely by local industry, such as steel production.
‘Currently, each metric tonne of crude steel produced releases approximately one metric tonne of CO2 emissions. Hydrogen is the only realistic option for decarbonising this industry,’ says Uniper Hydrogen CEO Dr Axel Wietfeld.
Uniper is additionally working with partners – Salzgitter and Rhenus Logistics, the city of Wilhelmshaven and the state of Lower Saxony – to determine the feasibility of a direct reduction plant with an upstream hydrogen electrolysis to produce around 2 million tonnes of ‘green’ crude iron using hydrogen generated by wind power. The plant would be built on the site of the existing power station in Wilhelmshaven, and would include the required infrastructure for supplying raw materials.
The COO of Uniper, David Bryson, says that if German and Europ want to remain industrial powerhouses as well as achieving climate targets, hydrogen will be necessary for the likes of steel production, the chemicals industry, freight, shipping and air transport, and that it will need to become a commodity and exploited.
‘One way of achieving this is to import green ammonia and convert it into hydrogen, which is something we are looking at for Wilhelmshaven. Currently, Germany plans to generate 14 TWh of green hydrogen in 2030, but the demand for that year is forecast to be 90–100 TWh – the discrepancy between these two figures is abundantly clear. We will be heavily dependent on imports if we want to use hydrogen to help us achieve our climate goals,’ he says.
The company has submitted the Green Wilhelmshaven project to the German Federal Ministry of Economics as an ‘Important Project of Common European Interest’ (IPCEI). IPCEIs are intended to promote integrated projects along the entire hydrogen value chain.
Uniper had originally explored using the Wilhelmshaven site as an LNG terminal, but found there was insufficient demand.