Germany a hydrogen country? HYPOS initiative introduces itself


The potential of "green hydrogen" has recently become the focus of attention. The gas offers the possibility of chemically storing renewable energy and releasing it if necessary. The network HYPOS is committed to the creation of a hydrogen economy in central Germany. Sputnik has contacted HYPOS.

It is not enough to set up more and more wind turbines and solar modules – the electricity produced must somehow be stored in order to meet the network requirements and the changing weather conditions. That is why companies and research groups throughout Germany are working on various storage solutions, from the battery to the heat storage to "green hydrogen" and synthetic fuels.
HYPOS is an initiative dedicated to hydrogen technologies. Since 2013, the initiative has been funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the funding program "Twenty20 – Partnership for Innovation" with 45 million euros and including the Siemens AG, VNG Gasspeicher GmbH, various Fraunhofer Institutes and other research institutions such as the Dresden University of Technology are well positioned as partners.
In the hydrogen cluster, various project associations are implementing more than 25 research projects that focus on the production of hydrogen using electrolysis, transport and storage as well as various applications in the areas of mobility, energy supply, the chemical industry and refineries. The aim is a functioning hydrogen economy, first for Central Germany.

Change chemical triangle to "green hydrogen"

Florian Thamm is responsible for Marketing & Public Relations at HYPOS and explains the background of the project to Sputnik:

"On the one hand, we already have an enormous demand for hydrogen in Central Germany due to the presence of the Central German Chemical Triangle – which is just under four billion cubic meters a year. In addition, the region offers enormous potential for the storage of green hydrogen in caverns. And in the Chemical Triangle there is also a hydrogen pipeline that allows the transport of hydrogen, "says Thamm.

Of the approximately four billion cubic meters of hydrogen in the Chemical Triangle, according to HYPOS currently 1.25 billion come from steam reforming, a process in which hydrogen and hydrogen are produced from hydrocarbons and water vapor. Carbon dioxide also accumulates and this is a climate policy thorn in the eye. This hydrogen could be replaced in the future by "green hydrogen", which is made by a split of water into hydrogen and oxygen under power. For this electrolysis process, however, renewable electricity would have to be used, so that the hydrogen can really be called "green", so no CO2 is produced elsewhere.

A large expansion of renewable energies is needed

Specifically, 1.6 gigawatts of installed electrolysis power would have to be available, said Stefan Bergander, project and innovation manager in the HYPOS network, Sputnik. Expressed in terms of electrical energy, four to six terawatt hours would have to be obtained from renewable sources in the HYPOS region. "Currently, several major industrial plants in the order of 50-100 MW each are planned in Germany. In the HYPOS region, two large electrolysis units with a total output of 80 MW are currently being developed in Leuna and Bad Lauchstadt, "Bergander continues. So it would have to be done alone for this "green hydrogen" a significant addition.

Distribution via existing natural gas network

After production, the hydrogen must be able to be distributed and therefore the topic of transport at HYPOS also plays a major role. The idea is to first use the existing natural gas network for hydrogen transport. Because there are already 479,000 kilometers of infrastructure in Germany. It would be conceivable to increase the proportion of hydrogen in the gas mixture in the lines of currently two to five percent by volume to 10 to 20 percent by volume. The gases would then have to be separated again at the target points. In addition, pure hydrogen pipes would also be conceivable for local supply, for example in industrial areas. Such a pipeline already exists in the Chemical Triangle, another is located in the Ruhr area.

In addition, since hydrogen is not always consumed the same and is to be produced as a storage medium in advance, HYPOS also deals with storage issues. According to Thamm, cavern storage systems, which have already been and are successfully used for natural gas, play a major role here. A salt cavern for the storage of hydrogen is currently being tested in Bad Lauchstadt. Its storage volume is 50 million cubic meters. Such a cavern could cover the peak load of the chemical triangle for just under 21 days.

The interview with Florian Thamm to listen to:

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