Hamburg hopes to reuse old coal-fired power stations for the production of green hydrogen


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Four large companies signed a letter of intent on Friday to develop a “mega-electrolyser” in the German city of Hamburg that will produce so-called “green” hydrogen.

An announcement by the city’s press service said that the prospective 100-megawatt plant would be located on the site of the Moorburg coal-fired power plant, which is currently being decommissioned.

In December 2020 it was announced that the Federal Network Agency Vattenfall, which operates the system and is one of the companies involved in the new plans, will compensate for the exit from the Moorburg plant.

In addition to Vattenfall, the consortium consists of Shell, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and the municipal heating supplier Wärme Hamburg. If everything goes according to plan, green hydrogen production could start in 2025.

“In the future, green hydrogen will play a very important role in the energy system and therefore also for us,” said Fabian Ziegler, Managing Director of Shell in Germany, in a statement.

Hydrogen can be produced in a number of ways. One involves the use of electrolysis, where an electric current splits water into oxygen and hydrogen.

If the electricity used comes from a renewable source such as wind, it is referred to as “green” or “renewable” hydrogen. The project planned for Hamburg would produce hydrogen with wind and sun.

The four companies involved will now try to apply for EU funding for their project. The application should be submitted in the first quarter of 2021. The plan also highlights a change in policy within Germany that relied on coal as a source of energy for many years.

The news of the plans for Hamburg comes at the end of a week in which two other European projects for the production of green hydrogen were taking shape.

On Monday it was announced that a subsidiary of German industrial giant Thyssenkrupp had received an engineering contract to install an 88-megawatt water electrolysis system for Hydro-Québec. The electricity for this project will come from hydropower.

A few days later, on Wednesday, the Danish energy company Orsted announced that it was moving forward with plans to develop a demonstration project that would use offshore wind energy to generate green hydrogen.