Energy Transition

Hamburg holds huge potential as centre of hydrogen

17 January 2020
City well positioned to develop hydrogen technology - improved regulatory framework needed

The energy transition and and climate change cannot be achieved without hydrogen technology, according to Michael Westhagemann, Senator for Economics, Monday (January 13, 2020), during a round table discussion with experts in the HSBA on Monday (13 January). He stressed: “We must combine the energy transition with climate change.” Westhagemann is keen on creating hydrogen electrolysis with a capacity of 100 megawatts in the Port of Hamburg. The energy can supply steel, aluminium and copper producers in Europe’s largest industrial area.

Michael Westhagemann

Energy transition and climate change

His remarks come against the backdrop of Hamburg’s potential to become a leading centre of the energy transition thanks to prerequisites such as wind energy in north Germany, existing natural storage facilities and the port as a hub of additional gas imports. The technology for electrolysis to produce environment-friendly hydrogen in large quantities is available. However, the statutory framework conditions for the economic use of renewable energies have yet to be created.

German government and framework

The five north German states have already developed a joint hydrogen strategy. The German government has been urged to present a national strategy for the economic use of the energy carrier and to provide security for the huge investments needed. Germany competes with the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria, where good framework conditions for producing environment-friendly hydrogen have been created, for this market.

Calls for measures in north

“We are investing in hydrogen technology throughout Europe, but not in Germany,” said Oliver Weinmann, Managing Director of Vattenfall and Deputy Chairman of the Hamburg Hydrogen Society. Michael Kruse, the leader of the FDP parliamentary faction in Hamburg, has called for concrete measures such as the establishment of an innovation agency to promote hydrogen technology in the north, as well as a research association involving universities and institutes.

Expanding offshore wind farms

The use of wind turbines on land is meeting with growing resistance from people prompting Westhagemann to call for the expansion of offshore wind energy to at least 30 gigawatts by 2030. Large wind farms could then be built in the North Sea, where hydrogen is produced simultaneously and then shipped to land. The hydrogen sector also holds opportunities for the Port of Hamburg.

Opportunities for Port of Hamburg

Germany alone cannot foreseeably meet all of the energy needs. About 50 per cent of the energy needed will have to be imported. Large plants could be built in Africa, for instance, in which hydrogen is produced using photovoltaics. This opens up new opportunities for African countries and for Germany to build the required electrolysis plants. Hydrogen can then flow through pipelines and be transported aboard ships to the Port of Hamburg and Europe.

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