Hamburg headed toward a green hydrogen future

7 June 2021
Large scale projects planned or already underway

Hamburg is on course to become a climate-friendly metropolis. However, plenty remains to be done even though CO2 emissions from electricity consumption are decreasing in every sector. Green hydrogen is set to play a pivotal role in Hamburg’s future as part of a sustainable environmental and economic policy and can help achieve the city’s ambitious goals. Numerous companies, initiatives and research institutions have been working on the issue for years and are actively driving the development of a commercially viable, green hydrogen sector. The German government's EUR 520 million in funding as part of the Hydrogen IPCEI (Important Projects of Common European Interest) for Hamburg's hydrogen projects has given the city yet another boost.   

In April 12 Hamburg-based companies joined forces to form the Wasserstoffverbund Hamburg (Hydrogen Network Hamburg). They include Airbus, ArcelorMittal, Gasnetz Hamburg, GreenPlug, Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG, Hamburg Port Authority, HADAG Seetouristik und Fährdienst, as well as the Stadtreinigung, the municipal cleaning service. Their goal is to initiate and implement innovative green hydrogen projects in the city with the Hamburg Green Hydrogen Hub, which plans to build the 100 MW electrolyser in Moorburg with Shell, Vattenfall, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Wärme Hamburg. They also hope to substitute fossil fuels in industrial applications as well as in transport and logistics. The partners expect the targeted measures to reduce CO2 emissions in Hamburg by 170,000 metric tons per annum. More than one million metric tons of the current 16 million metric tons of CO2 emissions in Hamburg can be saved every year by 2030. The green hydrogen required for this should come from the new electrolyser in Moorburg as of 2025. The waste heat from electrolysis can help make other sectors climate-friendlier, for instance, when used for the district heating network or the thermal treatment of municipal waste.

The following projects are currently being planned or already underway:

How Hydrogen Network Hamburg works

Hamburg Green Hydrogen Hub (HGHH) - green power 

Shell, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), Vattenfall and Wärme Hamburg have issued a letter of intent to jointly produce hydrogen from wind and solar energy in Moorburg for use mainly by local industries. At the core of the project is a scalable mega electrolyser with an initial capacity of 100 KW. The plans also foresee developing  the site into a so-called "Green Energy Hub" to ensure the permanent generation of electricity with hydrogen, thus sustainably decarbonising Hamburg's energy supply.

Wind energy is essential for green hydrogen.

Airbus - flying with hydrogen

Aviation accounts for around 3 per cent of global CO2 emissions. Airbus, one of the region's largest companies and employers, has launched its ZEROe aircraft concept to slash emissions and make a vital contribution to global climate targets. The company relies on hydrogen as an energy carrier for propulsion systems and has developed three different prototypes for medium-haul aircraft, one of which is set to go into production later. Its plans foresee a a hybrid model with hydrogen and electric propulsion. Work is also underway to advance the expansion of the hydrogen infrastructure at the plant as part of the "Hydrogen for Aviation Infrastructure and Production in Northern Germany" (WIPLiN) project,

ArcelorMittal - climate-neutral steel 

Steel is a key raw material for many industries, but the production is extremely CO2-intensive. For this reason, ArcelorMittal Hamburg plans to build a plant for steelmaking using green hydrogen. The company is facilitating a significant reduction in CO2 emissions in the supply chain through the "H2 for Hamburg" (H2H) project. To this end, ArcelorMittal's site in Hamburg is to be converted to climate-neutral steel production in four phases by 2030. The project includes building a hydrogen-fuelled pilot plant for the direct reduction of iron ore (H2First) and the technological modification of the existing direct reduction plant (H2Ready) to replace the use of natural gas with green hydrogen in the long term.

ArcelorMittal steel plant

Hamburg gas grid - win-win for city

As part of the Hamburg Hydrogen Industry Grid (HH-WIN) project, the Hamburg gas grid will be considerably expanded from the current 45 to 60 km by 2030. The goal is to guarantee a supply-secure infrastructure for green hydrogen. This will not only turn it into an essential lifeline for the planned regional hydrogen projects, but also link it up to grids nationwide and across Europe. The project will be developed and implemented in a demand-oriented and phase-by-phase approach. Around 570 million cubic meters of natural gas will be substituted annually, saving 1.2 million tons of CO2 in the long term.

GreenPlug - green push for boats

The Port of Hamburg is the main green hydrogen hub and seeks to become more climate-neutral itself. Through its "H2 Push Boat" (H2SB) project, GreenPlug has developed a zero-emission fuel cell push boat with a capacity of 2,400 tons at a speed of 10 knots. One boat will be manufactured and tested during the first stage of the project followed by nine more which will be built and chartered out to operators. They will be powered by green hydrogen from Hamburg as soon as it is available.

HHLA - decarbonised transport of heavy goods

As part of the "Hydrogen Logistics Applications & Distribution" (H2LOAD) project, Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) plans to introduce various types of heavy-duty equipment such as straddle carriers, trucks and tractor trucks, forklifts, masted container handlers, reach stackers and a shunting locomotive powered by fuel cells. The metropolitan region will initially benefit from the resulting reduction in CO2 emissions, but if the pilot project is successful, the experience gained in Hamburg can be applied to other places in Germany and across Europe and thus help achieve sustainable decarbonisation.

Port of Hamburg is region's hydrogen hub.

Hamburg Port Authority - buoyancy for hydrogen 

The Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) provides infrastructure such as roads, railways and waterways in the Port of Hamburg. Two projects are being implemented simultaneously through the Hydrogen Port Applications (HyPA) venture, The focus is on providing hydrogen refuelling stations for locomotives, ships, and trucks as well as building and deploying innovative hydrogen-powered ships. The aim is to make traffic in Hamburg's busy port area as emission-free as possible, which should go a long way towards decarbonisation.

HADAG Seetouristik und Fährdienst AG - green ferry service

The public-sector company operates the local passenger ferries in the Port of Hamburg and has plans to gradually convert its fleet to low-emission propulsion systems. As part of the H2HADAG project, three vessels will be converted from diesel-hybrid to hydrogen-hybrid, and two more will be built as hydrogen-hybrids. This will turn public transport in the port into an integral part of the value chain in Hamburg's hydrogen network.

Ferries on the Elbe to become climate friendlier

Stadtreinigung Hamburg - clean city, clean energy 

Stadtreinigung Hamburg is currently establishing the Center for Resources and Energy (ZRE) in Stellingen. Together with Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein, Wärme Hamburg, Gasnetz Hamburg and Hamburg Energie, the "Waste to Hydrogen for Hamburg" project aims to use electricity from waste-to-energy recycling of residual materials. The objective is use electrolysis to produce green hydrogen and charge batteries for e-mobility, among others. Moreover, there are also plans to operate hydrogen refuse collection vehicles or buses for climate-friendlier transport..


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