Dr. Geert Tjarks strongly believes that the Clean Hydrogen Coastline project in Northwest Germany can turn Europe into a significant player in the global hydrogen market. “With an intended goal of 400MW from electrolysis, Clean Hydrogen Coastline can significantly support a European value chain for hydrogen technologies,” Tjarks, Stakeholder Manager of Hydrogen at EWE Gasspeicher, enthused.
Clean Hydrogen Coastline was unveiled in March by EWE and sees several of North Germany’s largest industrial companies aligned in a $1.5bn project which aims to integrate hydrogen into the northwest German coastline. The basis of the project is to create green hydrogen that will be exported to the rest of Europe contributing to the growing European hydrogen economy, with an increased focus in industrial application.
H2 View got in touch with EWE and Tjarks to find out more about the project and how crucial it could be for deployment of hydrogen infrastructure in Europe.
Thanks for giving H2 View your time. To start, why don’t you tell us how EWE fits into the hydrogen space?
EWE is an energy supplier based in Oldenburg and active in the North West region of Germany. EWE has around 9,000 employees and is active in several fields regarding the energy sector e.g., energy production, storage, distribution and trading. With this broad experience from the conventional energy market, EWE can cover all relevant steps of the value chain for the supply of green hydrogen.
In combination with high shares of renewable energy production within the EWE portfolio, EWE wants to contribute to the ambitious goals of Germany regarding hydrogen and climate neutrality in general. Therefore, EWE has established its first hydrogen projects like HyWays For Future for hydrogen in the transport sector, or HyCavMobil for hydrogen storage in salt caverns.
You must be excited to work together with other German companies towards the common goal of integrating hydrogen into the coastline? Where did this project come from?
Some partnerships were already established before starting the development of the Clean Hydrogen Coastline project. Like the partnership between EWE, swb and ArcelorMittal Bremen, which was published in July 2020 for the project ‘HyBit – Hydrogen for Bremen’s industrial transformation’. Other partnerships were established specially for the Clean Hydrogen Coastline e.g. TenneT or FAUN.
All partners are convinced that North West Germany has perfect conditions for the market introduction of its first large scale hydrogen projects. With the named partnership, the project can cover all relevant value steps from energy supply, hydrogen production, distribution and storage to the usage of hydrogen within transport and industry. Such a holistic and integrated approach is essential for a successful market introduction of hydrogen.
What challenges and equally opportunities do you see in these plans in particular?
Clean Hydrogen Coastline will contribute to the climate goals of Germany by starting the transition of conventional energy carriers like oil in the transport sector and coal in the steel sector with green hydrogen within the region. The project will not only support the national goals of Germany but also company goals to become carbon neutral until 2050. In addition, Clean Hydrogen Coastline will establish a sustainable hydrogen economy in the region and beyond.
In this early market phase, the technology still requires political support in regard of subsidies and regulatory framework. These challenges are addressed by the National Hydrogen Strategy of the federal government and the IPCEI approach from the European Commission. EWE and their partners are involved in the political process for the establishment of a suitable framework. The consortium has expressed the interest of becoming an IPCEI on the national level.
H2 View understands EWE and FAUN are planning to introduce a hydrogen filling station network across the area. Tell us more about this…
Clean Hydrogen Coastline has a focus on fleets in the heavy-duty segment. By addressing commercial fleets, the establishment of a refuelling infrastructure can be supported because hydrogen demand is plannable and more focused on specific locations. Germany and several companies (e.g. H2Mobility) are already active in the field of hydrogen stations. The project Clean Hydrogen Coastline takes these activities into account and will support with further stations only if this is necessary to fulfil the customers’ requirements.
Since the project doesn’t address directly the marketing of the vehicles but the production capacity to achieve the named numbers of vehicles until 2026, the concrete locations for the stations are still under discussion. Therefore, FAUN and EWE are in close contact with potential customers. This needs-based approach will support an efficient market introduction of hydrogen in the heavy-duty segment.
Clean Hydrogen Coastline is planning to integrate up to 400MW of electrolysis by 2026. What impact will this have on Germany’s hydrogen goals as outlined in its National Hydrogen Strategy?
In Germany, plant sizes of up to 10MW electrolyser systems have already been established. For the next step, 100MW systems must be deployed to scale up the technology and to support the electrolysis industry in Europe. With an intended goal of 400MW, Clean Hydrogen Coastline can significantly support a European value chain for hydrogen technologies. This is a main focus of the National and European Hydrogen Strategy. In addition to this, 400MW by 2026 will support the national goal of 5GW electrolysis capacity by 2030. Not only by the electrolysis itself but by the establishment of a hydrogen infrastructure for storage and distribution.
A hydrogen infrastructure is fundamental for scaling up in the giga-watt range. To achieve large scale capacities for hydrogen production, the market for green hydrogen is essential. It is crucial to establish a respective market for green hydrogen in industry and transport for the deployment of water electrolysis in the range of 400MW and beyond.
“With an intended goal of 400MW, Clean Hydrogen Coastline can significantly support a European value chain for hydrogen technologies…”
How significant do you see hydrogen being in Germany’s economy? And more widely the European economy?
From the energy perspective, hydrogen will play an important role in a future decarbonised energy system. For this, there are three major reasons:
- The energy system based on renewable energy production from wind and PV will need flexibility and therefore large-scale storage options. Hydrogen can be seen as an important element of introducing flexibility and, at the same time, provide long-term storage to the system.
- A significant number of applications (e.g. industry sector, transport, share of heating sector) can’t be decarbonised by the use of direct current. For those applications, a renewable gaseous or liquid energy carrier is needed. Green hydrogen is the basic element for those energy carriers by the direct usage or the usage as feedstock for other molecules.
- Supply security of Germany will still depend on energy import in 2050. Therefore, an energy carrier is required which can be transported over long distances and time scales. Hydrogen or further molecules produced from hydrogen can be used as energy carrier for the import of energy.
From an industry perspective, hydrogen technology can support the European value chain and therefore the whole European market. Since the transition towards emission free technologies have started, it is important to keep innovative technologies within the European value chain. By introducing hydrogen technologies on the domestic market, Europe can and will establish a sustainable hydrogen economy to be competitive on the global scale.
Is hydrogen a big focus for EWE?
The decarbonisation of the EWE portfolio is an ambitious goal for the next decades. The transition has already started, and the introduction of hydrogen is the next important element on this path. The facts given in the answer above are making clear that hydrogen will be needed for the complete transition towards a carbon neutral system. Therefore, hydrogen is a big focus for EWE.
You just said EWE has ambitious goals for decarbonisation over the next decades. Can you share some of EWE’s aims or ambitions for the next five years, with regards to hydrogen?
EWE wants to establish hydrogen as an important pillar in the EWE business portfolio by 2025. The project Clean Hydrogen Coastline and the respective EWE working packages are the big picture for the project pipeline. By introducing a hydrogen infrastructure for distribution and storage, an eco-system for hydrogen can be established within the region and beyond. EWE and our partners want to establish this first eco-system by 2025 to make sure that market development can be achieved afterwards to fulfil the 2030 goals for electrolysis capacity and climate targets.