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Shell, MHI, Vattenfall to covert Hamburg coal plant to green hydrogen

100 MW capacity to be installed in the Port of Hamburg from 2025 onwards

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Boosting Hamburg’s energy transition, Vattenfall, Shell, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Hamburg’s municipal heat supplier Hamburg Wärme are planning to build one of the world’s largest electrolysers in the Port of Hamburg, Hamburg’s Ministry of Economy and Innovation said in a press release on January 22.

The new electrolyser is to have a capacity of 100 megawatts and be built on the site of the former Moorburg coal-fired power plant.

Shell, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Vattenfall and Wärme Hamburg are planning how they can jointly produce hydrogen from wind and solar power at the Hamburg-Moorburg power plant site and utilize it in its vicinity, Hamburg’s Ministry of Economy and Innovation said. To this end, the four companies have now signed a letter of intent.

Kentaro Hosomi, president and CEO Energy Systems, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries noted that the establishment of a green hydrogen hub that is fully integrated into Hamburg’s industrial infrastructure would show Europe and the world that the hydrogen economy is real and can make a significant contribution to the decarbonization of the energy system and heavy industry.

Shell in Germany CEO Fabian Ziegler noted that in the future, green hydrogen will play a very important role in the energy system and therefore also for his company. “We keep an eye on the development of the entire value chain for hydrogen; from the entry into electricity production from offshore wind to the expansion of capacities for green hydrogen production as well as to the supply for mobility or transport applications and other industries. To achieve this, we need to and we want to collaborate with strong partners. We consider this project of the consortium of four together with the city of Hamburg to be exemplary,” Ziegler said.

In addition to the construction of a scalable electrolyser, the further development of the site into a so-called “Green Energy Hub” is planned. This includes the exploration of the extent to which the existing infrastructure of the Moorburg location can be used for the production of energy from renewable sources. In this context, concepts for the necessary logistics chains and storage options for hydrogen will also be considered. Subject to final investment decision and according to the current state of planning, once the site has been cleared, the production of green hydrogen is anticipated in the course of 2025 – making the electrolyser one of the largest plants in Europe.

“I always believed in the project at the Moorburg site. There is no better location in Hamburg for a scalable electrolyser of this size,” said Michael Westhagemann, minister for economy and innovation of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. “Via the 380 kV connection and the connection to Brunsbüttel, we have direct access to the supply of green electricity from wind power – and thus the possibility of actually producing green hydrogen in relevant quantities. With this announcement, a big step will be taken towards a long-term decarbonisation of the port and a competitive hydrogen economy in the metropolitan region of Hamburg and I congratulate the partners on this forward-looking project,” he added.

The partners intend to apply for funding under the EU program “Important Projects of Common European Interest” (IPCEI). This should take place in the first quarter of 2021 with the submission of a first outline of the project. The four partner companies view the energy location as having ideal conditions for further use. It is connected to both the national 380,000 volt transmission network and the 110,000 volt network of the City of Hamburg. In addition, overseas ships can call at the location directly and use the quay and port facilities as an import terminal. The municipal gas network company also intends to expand a hydrogen network in the port within ten years and is already working on the necessary distribution infrastructure. Numerous potential customers for green hydrogen are located near the site, thus enabling the project to cover the entire hydrogen value chain – from generation to storage, transport and utilization in various sectors. With these prerequisites, the Moorburg location is optimal for the German federal state of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and Northern Germany and can become a potential starting point for the development of a hydrogen economy.

For many years, Moorburg was the site of a gas-fired power plant operated by Hamburgische Electricitäts-Werke, and Vattenfall had been operating a coal-fired power plant here since 2015. Its commercial operation was terminated after the power plant won a bid in the auction for the nationwide coal phase-out in December 2020. A decision by the transmission system operator on the system relevance of the plant is expected in March 2021. The City of Hamburg and Vattenfall are striving to clear [partial] areas of the site as soon as possible for the project to produce green hydrogen and the development of a Green Energy Hub.

Andreas Regnell, senior vice President and head of strategic evelopment, Vattenfall, said the production of fossil free hydrogen is one key to the decarbonisation of the industry and the transport sectors. “Vattenfall wants to enable fossil free living within one generation and we have high ambitions to grow within renewable energy production in the markets where we operate. In this project we can contribute with our expertise and experience and the unique Moorburg site that has the infrastructure that is necessary for large scale production of hydrogen,” he said, adding, “We are therefore pleased that we can support the city and the industrial location of Hamburg in implementing their ambitious climate goals”.

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Co-founder / Director of Energy & Climate Policy and Security at NE Global Media

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