Exclusive interview with Raffinerie Heide CEO

Exclusive interview with Raffinerie Heide CEO

Raffinerie Heide, a company that originally started out as a traditional crude oil refinery over 100 years ago, is now shifting its efforts towards a cleaner energy future through the production of green hydrogen and cleaner synthetic aviation fuel on an industrial scale.

The Germany-based company has recently immersed itself into two multifaceted projects around the decarbonation of industry, heat and transport in order to help achieve global climate change targets.

To find out more about the newly formed projects, the company’s intentions, and goals for the future, H2 spoke exclusively to Juergen Wollschlaeger, Raffinerie Heide CEO.

“A few years ago, we began to consider our position within the wider context of the global energy transition. We recognised that because oil refining is the core of what we do, we have a significant role to play in progressing the transition,” Wollschlaeger tells H2 View.

“We began to think about how we could utilise our existing infrastructure and invest in modernising our business for a cleaner energy future.”

“It was then that we began to see the opportunities available from the production of green hydrogen, and how ideally placed we are to help grow the hydrogen economy.”

© Raffinerie Heide

Projects

The refinery company is currently involved in two green hydrogen projects, helping to reduce its carbon footprint.

Heide currently stands as a key partner and coordinator of the Reallabor Westkuste 100 (real-world laboratory) project, a project which is aiming to enable Heide to produce green hydrogen on an industrial scale.

“The project involves the production of green hydrogen via electrolysis, using excess energy from the region’s onshore and offshore wind developers – including the likes of EDF Energy and Orsted, who are two of the projects main participants.”

Reallabor Westkuste 100 will originally utilise a 30MW electrolysis unit which will be examined before the potential upscale to a 700MW unit capable of producing hydrogen on an industrial scale.

Ultimately, Heide will be a significant off-taker of the hydrogen produced. The company already has the existing infrastructure in place, including two underground salt caverns which have a capability to store eight million cubic meters of hydrogen each.

“This vision is for the ‘real-world laboratory’ to also provide district heading to a neighbouring business park; for hydrogen to potentially be injected into the domestic gas grid.”

Heide is also involved in another partnership project titled KEROSyN100 which is enabling the company to utilise hydrogen in order to develop cleaner, synthetic aviation fuels.

“Given our role as the main supplier of fuel to Hamburg Airport, we are very well positioned to support the decarbonisation of aviation in this way.”

“This project is already making promising progress – earlier this year we signed a partnership with Lufthansa and have a goal for Heide to supply 5% of Hamburg Airport’s jet fuel supply with synthetic kerosene, five years from now.”

© Raffinerie Heide

Looking to the future

“We see our projects developing significantly and across multiple sectors. The multifaceted nature of our projects lends itself to offering a number of decarbonisation solutions,” Wollschlaeger continued.

The company’s involvement in the two hydrogen projects aligns well with its vision to become a ‘first mover’ in the development of ‘clean’ hydrogen and synthetic kerosene on an industrial-scale, and a ‘key enabler’ for the decarbonisation of heat, transport and industry.

“Our relatively small size in comparison to much larger refineries enables us to be much more flexible in adapting our business and existing infrastructure for the future.”

“We are already beginning to glean exactly how far hydrogen technologies can go in helping to reduce global emissions, but there is so much more that we can expand into.”

“Now more than ever the world is waking up to the reality of climate change, the need to rethink where our energy comes from and the importance of transitioning to cleaner, alternative energy sources.”

“Projects, such as the ones we are involved in, have the potential to decarbonise the ‘hard to reach’ and carbon-intensive areas of industry, heat and transport, which is vital for the broader global energy transition.”


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