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Hamburg’s hydrogen economy

Complementary projects in Germany’s biggest seaport

A recent coalition agreement has confirmed plans to develop one of the world's largest hydrogen electrolysis plants in the Port of Hamburg. This, however, is just one part of the wider-reaching strategy to greenify industrial affairs in the city – and beyond. Read on to discover more exciting things happening with hydrogen in Hamburg.

The likes of Vattenfall, Shell, Airbus, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, plus several potential off-takers have submitted a joint application to the “Important Projects of Common European Interest” funding program. In all, nine projects – which could bring about massive CO2 reductions through the widespread use of sustainably obtained hydrogen – are currently in planning. 

Better together 

Other companies behind the efforts of the so-called Hamburg Hydrogen Network are ArcelorMittal, Gasnetz Hamburg, GreenPlug, Hamburger Hafen und Logistik, Hamburg Port Authority, HADAG, and Stadtreinigung Hamburg – the town’s municipal cleaning service. It seems that with some major industry players, as well as trusted local specialists on board, the group could fulfill its targets to reduce Hamburg’s current 16 million tons of CO2 emissions by more than one million tons annually by 2030. This would be made possible through local electrolysis, sea-side imports, and connection to the emerging European hydrogen network. 

Hamburg’s locational advantages for establishing a hydrogen economy: 

  • Great generating capacity for onshore and offshore wind-generated electricity with further expansion potential
  • Underground formations for storing hydrogen 
  • Seaports whose import terminals will play decisive roles as logistics and business hubs when it comes to importing and distributing green hydrogen and synthetic energy carriers, as well as for using hydrogen and exporting hydrogen-related technology and components 
  • Maritime enterprises and scientific expertise 
  • Industry sectors with significant experience in handling hydrogen. 

Hamburg Hydrogen Network 

Here on the Wind Farm Management blog, we recently covered the Danes’ colossal plans to develop offshore wind energy infrastructure on the submerged North Sea island of Doggerland. We shared Scottish and Dutch plans to harness and utilize hydrogen which are also well underway. What sets this new network’s plans apart from the rest is the sheer number of plans in place.  

As mentioned, there are nine in total. One of these is the Hamburg Green Hydrogen Hub, which plans to produce hydrogen via offshore wind and solar power for a 100MW mega electrolyzer. According to Hamburg News, this could lead to a “Green Energy Hub”, which would ensure permanent electricity supply through hydrogen and sustainably decarbonize Hamburg’s (and its surrounding area’s) energy supply. 

The Hamburg Hydrogen Network aims to reduce Hamburg’s current 16 million tons of CO2 emissions by more than one million tons every year by 2030. 

Going for green! 

Airbus, one of the region’s largest employers, decided to join the initiative in line with its ZEROe concept. The aviation company aims to increase its global climate efforts, and the development of hybrid-hydrogen aircraft would form a solid basis for it to achieve its sustainability goals. According to Dr. Andre Walter, Head of Airbus Commercial Germany, hydrogen is “a key technology for the aviation industry of the future.” 

“This is not only about the propulsion of aircraft, but also about the infrastructure of our production site. We are one of the largest employers and industrial companies in the Hamburg region. This is why the expansion of the hydrogen industry network and further electrolysis capacity are important for us,” Walter went on to add.  

ArcelorMittal’s H2 for Hydrogen project, if realized through the network, would mean the steel company could convert to carbon-neutral production in Europe by 2050. Hamburg’s Hydrogen Industry Grid project looks to substitute around 570 million cubic meters of natural gas for hydrogen and guarantee supply-secure infrastructure for green hydrogen. This particular project has developed by Gasnetz Hamburg – operator of the Hanseatic city’s natural gas grid. Speaking on behalf Gasnetz, Managing Director of the Hamburg gas network, Christian Hein:  

“It is our declared aim to create the possibility for Hamburg’s industrial companies to replace their current gas needs with climate-neutral green hydrogen.” 

Other projects that form the network’s plans can be found here. 

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