Com­ple­te sec­tor cou­pling: Green hydro­gen and decar­bo­ni­sa­ti­on on an indus­tri­al sca­le

Fly­ing, buil­ding and hea­ting more sustainab­ly in the future — that is the goal of the „West­küs­te 100” real-world labo­ra­to­ry. The aim is to map and sca­le a regio­nal hydro­gen eco­no­my on an indus­tri­al sca­le. The con­di­ti­ons for this are uni­que, espe­ci­al­ly on the west coast of Schles­wig-Hol­stein: Here, a strong wind ener­gy regi­on and excel­lent geo­lo­gi­cal sto­rage con­di­ti­ons meet inno­va­ti­ve com­pa­nies that want to actively shape the future and make an important con­tri­bu­ti­on to achie­ving cli­ma­te pro­tec­tion goals.

In Schles­wig-Hol­stein, the cross-indus­try part­nership „West­küs­te 100” has for­med bet­ween EDF Ger­ma­ny, Hol­cim Ger­ma­ny, Open Grid Euro­pe, Ørsted, Raf­fi­ne­rie Hei­de, Stadt­wer­ke Hei­de and thys­sen­krupp Indus­tri­al Solu­ti­ons — tog­e­ther with the Regi­on Hei­de deve­lop­ment agen­cy and the West­küs­te Uni­ver­si­ty of App­lied Sci­ence. The hydro­gen will then be used to pro­du­ce cli­ma­te-fri­end­ly fuels for air­craft as well as fed into gas grids. In fuel pro­duc­tion wit­hout fos­sil fuels, unavo­ida­ble CO2 from regio­nal cement pro­duc­tion is used for the pro­duc­tion pro­cess. What is spe­cial and inno­va­ti­ve about this real-world labo­ra­to­ry pro­ject is the inter­lo­cking of dif­fe­rent mate­ri­al cycles wit­hin an alrea­dy exis­ting regio­nal infra­st­ruc­tu­re.

Real-world labo­ra­to­ries of the ener­gy revo­lu­ti­on

At the begin­ning of April 2019 the “West­küs­te 100” rese­arch and deve­lop­ment con­cept was sub­mit­ted as a pro­po­sal in the ide­as com­pe­ti­ti­on orga­nis­ed by the Federal Minis­try of Eco­no­mics ent­it­led “Real-world labo­ra­to­ries fos­te­ring the ener­gy tran­si­ti­on”.  Real-world labo­ra­to­ries offer the oppor­tu­ni­ty to acce­le­ra­te the trans­fer of tech­no­lo­gy and inno­va­ti­on from rese­arch to prac­tice. This enab­les tech­ni­cal and non-tech­ni­cal ide­as and inno­va­tions to be deve­lo­ped and tested under real con­di­ti­ons and on an indus­tri­al sca­le.

Jür­gen Woll­schlä­ger, mana­ging direc­tor of Raf­fi­ne­rie Hei­de and pro­ject coor­di­na­tor: „We have a clear visi­on in the real-world labo­ra­to­ries team of the  West­küs­te 100: The part­ners focus on long-term coope­ra­ti­ons that ran­ge from the genera­ti­on of green elec­tri­ci­ty to the pro­duc­tion of syn­the­tic hydro­car­bons and thus form the nucleus for sustainab­le busi­ness models in the area of ener­gy sys­tem trans­for­ma­ti­on and decar­bo­ni­za­ti­on.

Details of the pro­ject out­line

Wit­hin the five-year pro­ject peri­od, an elec­tro­ly­sis plant with a capa­ci­ty of 30 mega­watts is to be instal­led initi­al­ly. It will pro­vi­de insights into the ope­ra­ti­on, main­ten­an­ce, con­trol and grid ser­vicea­bi­li­ty of the plants in order to trans­fer them to the next sca­ling step. This could, for examp­le, be an elec­tro­ly­sis plant in the order of 700 MW, for which the elec­tri­ci­ty is gene­ra­ted by an off­shore wind farm.

Regio­nal, holistic and scala­b­le

The approach of the “West­küs­te 100” real-world labo­ra­to­ry is holistic: the rege­ne­ra­ti­ve ener­gy gene­ra­ted with the help of wind power is used to gene­ra­te green hydro­gen at the Hei­de refi­ne­ry by elec­tro­ly­sis. 

In the “Real-world labo­ra­to­ries 100” pro­ject team, we have a clear visi­on: The part­ners are focu­sing on long-term coope­ra­ti­ons that ran­ge from the genera­ti­on of green elec­tri­ci­ty to the pro­duc­tion of syn­the­tic hydro­car­bons and thus form the nucleus for sustainab­le busi­ness models in the area of ener­gy sys­tem trans­for­ma­ti­on and decar­bo­ni­za­ti­on.

Jür­gen Woll­schlä­ger, mana­ging direc­tor of Raf­fi­ne­rie Hei­de and the project’s coor­di­na­tor

In the future, par­al­lel to the elec­tro­ly­sis ope­ra­ti­on, a bran­ched hydro­gen grid will be built bet­ween the refi­ne­ry, the muni­ci­pal uti­li­ties, a cavern sys­tem and the exis­ting natu­ral gas grid on the basis of a ground­brea­king pipe­line tech­no­lo­gy. It is plan­ned that a cavern sto­rage sys­tem for hydro­gen sto­rage will con­vert the avail­ab­le wind ener­gy into a con­ti­nuous stream of hydro­gen for indus­tri­al use.

It is also being exami­ned whe­ther the oxy­gen also pro­du­ced during elec­tro­ly­sis can be fed into the com­bus­ti­on pro­cess of a regio­nal cement plant with the aid of an “oxy­fu­el pro­cess”, which could also signi­fi­cant­ly redu­ce the plant’s nitro­gen oxi­de (NOx) emis­si­ons. In return, the car­bon dioxi­de (CO2) pro­du­ced in the cement plant is to be used as a raw 

mate­ri­al tog­e­ther with the green hydro­gen in the refi­ne­ry for the pro­duc­tion of syn­the­tic hydro­car­bons (e.g. as avia­ti­on fuel or che­mi­cal raw mate­ri­al such as metha­nol).

This would be an important con­tri­bu­ti­on to the decar­bo­ni­sa­ti­on of the cement indus­try. In the avia­ti­on sec­tor — the fas­test-gro­wing trans­port sec­tor in Ger­ma­ny and the EU — a syn­the­tic green fuel would rep­re­sent a fur­ther bre­akth­rough in decar­bo­ni­sa­ti­on.

An addi­tio­nal plus point: The pro­cess heat pro­du­ced is decou­pled in an exis­ting and fur­ther deve­lo­ped heat grid and used, for examp­le, in an indus­tri­al park.


Pro­ject part­ners

As a mem­ber of the Westküste100 con­sor­ti­um, EDF Deutsch­land GmbH brings with it the exper­ti­se of the ent­i­re EDF Group (EDF). With more than 4,200 employees and 100 rese­ar­chers, the EDF Group alrea­dy has wide-ran­ging activi­ties in Ger­ma­ny, nota­b­ly in the fields of rene­wa­ble ener­gies, ener­gy ser­vices and inno­va­ti­on.
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The Fach­hoch­schu­le West­küs­te – Uni­ver­si­ty of App­lied Sci­en­ces — in Hei­de in 2018 for­med the Insti­tu­te for the Trans­for­ma­ti­on of the Ener­gy Sys­tem (ITE), con­cen­tra­ting its exper­ti­se in the ener­gy tran­si­ti­on in a way con­du­ci­ve to work on inter­di­sci­pli­na­ry pro­blem-sol­ving in par­ti­cu­lar. 
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The Hol­cim Ger­ma­ny Group, with its 2,100 employees and 150 sites, is one of the lar­gest manu­fac­tu­rers of buil­ding mate­ri­als (cement, aggre­ga­tes, rea­dy-mix con­cre­te and pre­cast con­cre­te ele­ments) in Ger­ma­ny and the Nether­lands. It belongs to the lea­ding glo­bal buil­ding mate­ri­als com­pa­ny LafargeHolcim. Hol­cim signed up to sustainab­le deve­lop­ment many years ago, a com­mit­ment that is also part of LafargeHolcim’s glo­bal group stra­te­gy.
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OGE, based in Essen, is one of Germany’s major trans­mis­si­on sys­tem ope­ra­tors, with a pipe­line net­work some 12,000 kilo­me­tres long. Our around 1,450 employees pro­vi­de safe, envi­ron­ment­al­ly-fri­end­ly and custo­mer-focu­sed gas trans­por­ta­ti­on throughout Ger­ma­ny.
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As the glo­bal mar­ket lea­der in off­shore wind power pro­duc­tion, Ørsted has also off­shore wind farms in Ger­ma­ny. With an instal­led capa­ci­ty of some 1.4 giga­watts, an equi­va­lent of 1.4 mil­li­on Ger­man house­holds can be sup­plied with rene­wa­ble elec­tri­ci­ty.
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Raf­fi­ne­rie Hei­de GmbH is Germany’s nort­hern­most cru­de oil refi­ne­ry. Each year the com­pa­ny pro­ces­ses around 4.5 mil­li­on ton­nes of cru­de oil at its 134-hec­ta­re site. Well over 70 per­cent of the cru­de oil is used for fuel pro­duc­tion.
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The Hei­de Regi­on Deve­lop­ment Agen­cy (EARH) was for­med in 2013 by Hei­de muni­ci­pal admi­nis­tra­ti­on and the 11 sur­roun­ding com­mu­nities as an insti­tu­ti­on under public law. Its work focu­ses on imple­men­ting the urban-rural plan­ning con­cept and on pro­mo­ting the regio­nal eco­no­my.
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As a muni­ci­pal, cer­ti­fied uti­li­ty com­pa­ny for elec­tri­ci­ty, gas, water and heat, Stadt­wer­ke Hei­de GmbH sup­plies around 35,000 resi­dents, house­holds and busi­nes­ses and ope­ra­tes a gas grid with a length of some 400 km. The com­pa­ny brings tog­e­ther exper­ti­se in net­work ope­ra­ti­on, heat genera­ti­on and sup­ply, sto­rage and inte­gra­ti­on of rene­wa­ble ener­gies, end-custo­mer bil­ling, regu­lato­ry grid usa­ge char­ges and the sup­ply of liquid fuels and natu­ral gas.
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The Indus­tri­al Solu­ti­ons busi­ness area of thys­sen­krupp is a lea­ding part­ner for the engi­nee­ring, con­struc­tion and ser­vice of indus­tri­al plants and sys­tems. Based on more than 200 years of engi­nee­ring expe­ri­ence we sup­ply tailo­red, turn­key plants and com­pon­ents for custo­mers in the che­mi­cal, fer­ti­li­ser, cement, mining and steel indus­tries.
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