Hamburg to become European green hydrogen city

22 January 2021
One of Europe's largest electrolysis plants to be built in Moorburg - Shell, Mitsubishi, Vattenfall and Wärme Hamburg sign letter of intent

Shell, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), Vattenfall and Wärme Hamburg have signed a letter of intent to jointly produce hydrogen from wind and solar power at the power plant in Hamburg-Moorburg, a press release said Friday (January 22, 2021). Their plans foresee the construction of a scalable electrolyser with an initial output of 100 megawatts and developing the site into a so-called “Green Energy Hub". This involves assessing the existing infrastructure in Moorburg for producing energy from renewable sources. Concepts for the required logistics chains and storage options for hydrogen will also be considered. Production is expected to start in 2025 pending the final investment decision and site clearance. The electrolyser would become one of the largest of its kind in Europe.

Ideal conditions in Moorburg

The partners will submit a draft of the project in Q1 of 2021 as part of their application for funding under the EU's "Important Projects of Common European Interest" (IPCEI) programme. The site has ideal conditions for further use, they believe. Michael Westhagemann, Senator for Economics and Innovation, echoed their views saying: "There is no better location in Hamburg for a scalable electrolyser of this size. Via the 380 kV connection and the link 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." The announcement marks a major step towards the long-term decarbonisation of the port and a competitive hydrogen sector in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region, he added. 

Visualisation of Hamburg Green Hydrogen Hubs

Moorburg - starting point for hydrogen sector

Overseas ships can call at the site and use the quay and port facilities as an import terminal. The municipal gas network company also intends expanding a hydrogen network in the port by 2031 and is already working on the distribution infrastructure. Numerous potential customers for green hydrogen are located nearby. The project could thus cover the entire hydrogen value chain - from generation to storage, transport and utilization in various sectors. These prerequisites make the Moorburg site ideal for Hamburg and northern Germany and to become a potential starting point for developing a hydrogen sector.

Hydrogen crucial to Hamburg's climate goals 

The companies' efforts towards a consortium are being backed by Hamburg’s government. Its coalition agreement includes examining and supporting the feasibility of sector coupling and establishing hydrogen production. Jens Kerstan, Chairman of the Supervisory Boards of Wärme Hamburg GmbH and Gasnetz Hamburg GmbH, and Hamburg's Senator for the Environment and Energy, noted: “This agreement is a vital step for Hamburg as a city that embraces the energy transition. At the Moorburg site, we will be producing green hydrogen on a large scale in collaboration with experienced partners from industry, while at the same time establishing a Green Energy hub for climate-friendly energy. This is a bold venture that now needs to be filled with life. This project will be a major lever for reaching our climate goals." He added: "Our hydrogen future is now taking shape, and Hamburg intends to be at the forefront here. The senate supports these efforts, and Hamburg’s public companies play a decisive role in this.”

Moorburg coal-fired power plant to be demolished

Moorburg was formerly the site of a gas-fired power plant operated by Hamburgische Electricitäts-Werke (HEW). In 2015, Vattenfall commissioned a coal-fired power plant there. Operations ended when the power plant secured a contract in the auction for the nationwide phase-out of coal in December 2020. A decision by the transmission system operator on its system relevance is expected in March 2021. The City of Hamburg and Vattenfall are aiming to clear and develop parts of the site for the green hydrogen project and the "Green Energy Hub" in the near future.

Sources and further information

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