Germany's Evonik in consortium to create pan-European green hydrogen infrastructure

Author: Morgan Condon

2021/03/09

LONDON (ICIS)--Evonik has joined an partnership to create infrastructure for green hydrogen across Europe, the German chemicals producer said on Tuesday.

The seven companies in the GET H2 initiative are working to facilitate green hydrogen in refineries, steel production and other industrial uses, which could reduce 16m tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2030.

The project would convert existing gas pipelines to transport hydrogen, connecting the German sites of Lingen in Emsland, Gelsenkirchen and Salzgitter near the Dutch border in stages between 2024 and 2030.

Partners alongside Evonik include BP, German gas suppliers OGE, Nowega, and Thyssengas, multinational electricity firm RWE, German steel subsidiary Salzgitter Flachstahl.

Click on image to enlarge

Source: GET H2

The project:
- In Lingen (Emsland), RWE produces green hydrogen via an electrolysis plant. From 2024, this will be used to supply the BP refinery in Gelsenkirchen.
- Most of the transport will take place via existing gas grid lines (shown in orange), which will be converted to hydrogen transport.
- In 2025, it is planned to extend the network to the Dutch border, and in 2026 RWE will integrate a cavern storage facility in Gronau-Epe.
- By 2030, the network is to be extended to the Salzgitter steelworks and, if necessary, connected to other networks (shown in light blue).

All partners in the consortium have now submitted an expression of interest for funding under the Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) programme to Germany's Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.

This initiative could lay out the building blocks of a green hydrogen value chain and form the basis for cross border European infrastructure via the Dutch border, said Evonik.

By integrating RWE-owned cavern storage in Gronau-Epe, Germany, the alliance could provide supply security to the system based on electricity generation from wind energy.

Implementing these plans would require an amendment of the Energy Industry Act (EnWG) as the draft passed by the German cabinet in February does not provide overarching regulation of gas and hydrogen networks with a uniform gas and hydrogen network fee.

The consortium states that this would be the best solution to enable a uniform and non-discriminatory use of the hydrogen infrastructure at sustainable conditions.

“The IPCEI programme can finance the network construction in part. However, the financing of network operation requires a long-term solution to the charging issue in the EnWG,” said GET H2 in a statement.

The group also wants further clarification on the terminology of the national rollout of the EU Renewable Energy Directive 2 (RED 2), approved by the German cabinet in December to support the uptake of green hydrogen in the transport sector.

Criteria for the levy exemption of green electricity used in electrolysis, which was an amendment to the Renewable Energy Sources Act decided in December and the definition of electricity purchase criteria are both need further clarification.

The steel industry would require a different subsidy path, like the Carbon Contracts for Difference (CCfD) as RED 2 would not be applicable.

The CCfD would support the use of CO2-free or low-CO2 steel as part of the German government’s hydrogen strategy, but the legal implementation of this scheme is still pending.

With the integration of a cavern storage facility by RWE in Gronau-Epe, the system, which is based on electricity generation from wind energy, can also make a contribution to supply security.

The expansion of the project by partners from the transport sector and for the distribution of green hydrogen in the area is also already in preparation.

Other partners from the GET H2 initiative have also submitted expressions of interest for IPCEI funding for projects aimed at building a hydrogen infrastructure.