Abandoning plans for a German LNG receiving terminal, energy trader Uniper has launched a feasibility study exploring a central hub for importing green hydrogen to support the country’s clean energy transition
Called Green Wilhelmshaven, the hub would supply 10% of hydrogen demand in Germany, said the company. As conceived, the planned terminal would be equipped with an ammonia (NH3) cracker that would produce green hydrogen from imported ammonia. The terminal would be connected to a planned hydrogen network for use by industry and potentially other consumers.
A planned 410-MW electrolysis plant in combination with the import terminal would be capable of supplying around 295,000 tonnes or 10% of the demand expected for the whole of Germany in 2030, according to Uniper.
Uniper said this approach would provide security of supply. The NH3 splitting plant for producing green hydrogen would be the first scaled plant of its kind.
Uniper chief operating officer David Bryson said “It is essential that Germany and Europe remain industrial powerhouses. If we want to achieve this and still hit our ambitious climate protection targets, we need hydrogen to power sectors such as steel production, the chemicals industry or in freight, shipping and air transport.”
Emphasised Mr Bryson, “In other words, we need ’green molecules’ as well as ’green electrons’. We need to get hydrogen out of the laboratory and start using it in large-scale applications and marketable industrial solutions — we should make it into a commodity and exploit its wide variety of uses.”
Mr Bryson cited data showing Germany will have a shortfall in green hydrogen in 2030. He said “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.”
Commissioning of the new terminal is planned for the second half of this decade, depending on national import demand and export opportunities.
Green Wilhelmshaven, with its combination of hydrogen import and production, is one of the projects Uniper is proposing to create a common European hydrogen market and submitted to the German Federal Ministry of Economics a few weeks ago as an ’Important Project of Common European Interest’ (IPCEI). IPCEIs are intended to promote integrated projects along the entire hydrogen value chain. Additionally, Uniper is working with its partners on a project to ascertain whether it would be feasible to build a direct reduction plant with upstream hydrogen electrolysis on the site of the existing power plant in Wilhelmshaven, as well as the required infrastructure for supplying raw materials.
The aim is to produce around 2M tonnes of green crude iron using hydrogen generated via wind power. Uniper is working with Salzgitter and Rhenus Logistics, the city of Wilhelmshaven and the state of Lower Saxony on this project.
Dr Axel Wietfeld, chief executive Uniper Hydrogen said "One sector in which hydrogen can play a crucial role in reducing CO2 emissions is steel production. Currently, each tonne of crude steel produced releases approximately one tonne of CO2 emissions. Hydrogen is the only realistic option for decarbonising this industry."
The Wilhelmshaven site had originally been earmarked for an LNG import terminal, but Uniper said a market test in October 2020 to show binding interest proved that there is currently little interest in the LNG sector in terms of booking large, long-term capacities for LNG regasification in Germany.