Gas transmission system operator OGE and energy company RWE have unveiled ‘H2ercules’ as a national hydrogen infrastructure concept.
The proposal to accelerate the development of a hydrogen industry and infrastructure in Germany includes plans for up to 1GW of new electrolyser capacity and 1,500km of pipelines connecting electrolysers and storage and import facilities in the north of the country with industrial consumers in the west and south.
Additional import routes from the south and east that are currently under development are to be connected by 2030.
With this proposal, H2ercules would become the backbone of a hydrogen infrastructure linking the North Sea coast with southern Germany, according to a statement from the two companies, which adds that the first large companies, such as thyssenkrupp, have signalled their interest in being connected to such a grid.
OGE and RWE estimate that investments of about €3.5 billion (US$3.8 billion) will be needed to implement the project and that it should be able to cover two thirds of the hydrogen demand from the German industrial centres along the recommended route by 2030.
“The concept is to be seen as a proposal that can be implemented in order to solve the Herculean tasks of decarbonising and diversifying the energy supply,” says Dr Jörg Bergmann, Chairman of the Board of Management at OGE.
“These tasks can only be mastered if companies collaborate across different levels of added value with the support of policymakers to quickly create suitable operating conditions. We are overcoming the chicken-and-egg problem through this very big leap and can thus offer other hydrogen players a solid foundation for their projects.”
OGE’s role in the initiative is to ensure that the green hydrogen can reach customers by converting existing natural gas pipelines for hydrogen transport and building new pipelines.
RWE will construct the new electrolysers to produce green hydrogen and in addition, is planning to import large volumes of hydrogen. RWE also intends to build hydrogen ready gas-fired power stations with a capacity of at least 2GW close to the planned H2ercules route, and for its gas storage systems near the Dutch border to also connect into the hydrogen pipeline with both important to create flexible green backup capacities.
“In order to achieve its climate goals, the industry needs large volumes of green hydrogen – as quickly as possible,” says Markus Krebber, CEO of RWE AG.
“Together with OGE we are addressing this challenge and we are planning to build Germany’s first hydrogen fast track.”
H2ercules is planned to open new opportunities for connecting Germany to major import routes in Europe including initially via pipelines in Belgium and the Netherlands and later via Norway as well as southern and eastern Europe. In this way it could support the creation of a European hydrogen market.
As most of H2ercules can use converted existing natural gas pipelines, the proposal could be implemented significantly more quickly and more cost-effectively overall than infrastructure that is constructed from scratch.
OGE and RWE say that upcoming discussions with policymakers will focus on getting in pace the necessary conditions for implementation.