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  • Hydrogen - green energy carrier of the future

    At least since the growing desire for independence from natural gas, as well as the strategies of the German government and the European Union, it has become clear that hydrogen will be a key element in the successful implementation of the energy transition. It will now be crucial for the development of a hydrogen economy to bring together the production and demand for hydrogen.

    Due to the numerous industrial companies located in the vicinity of STEAG's own sites and the good logistical conditions via water, rail and road connections, they offer enormous potential, for example for the construction of electrolysers for the production of green hydrogen. In addition to the necessary building land for the realization of such plants, there is a strategically good location for the development of a hydrogen infrastructure due to the proximity to regionally based companies from industry as well as local public transport. Furthermore, the establishment of a local green power and heat generation by implementing further components is also considered. In combination with photovoltaic systems and battery storage, the previous coal sites can be transformed into green energy hubs. The provision of local green electricity, green heat, green flexibility and the production of green hydrogen can add value across sectors in the implementation of the energy turnaround in the Ruhr region, Saarland and beyond, and safeguard jobs.

    In the future, STEAG will integrate and market green energies consisting of electricity, hydrogen and heat into its own renewables portfolio and use the flexibility from the portfolio for demand-based supply to its customers.


    What actually is hydrogen?

    Hydrogen is more than just a universal energy carrier. It is a storage medium, is regarded as an important hinge for successful sector coupling due to its material convertibility and, in the form of the downstream products that can be produced from it - keyword "Power-to-X" - is to become the decisive lever for decarbonizing energy-intensive industries in particular, such as the cement industry, transport and aviation and especially the iron and steel industry, i.e. making them CO2-free.

    It is the declared aim of policymakers to make Germany an international pioneer in the field of hydrogen. The economic stimulus package adopted by the German government in summer 2020 to combat the economic consequences of the Corona crisis already provided seven billion euros in funding for this. A further two billion euros is to flow into international cooperation projects. A key aspect of this is the development of a generation infrastructure to produce hydrogen primarily "green" in the future, i.e. using electricity from renewable sources. Only then will the hydrogen from which the energy dreams of the future are made remain emission-free in balance sheet terms and thus suitable as an effective instrument for achieving climate protection targets.


    Production of hydrogen with an electrolyzer

    “Electrolysis" refers to the splitting of a chemical compound by the use of electric current. In an electrolyzer, two electrodes (anode and cathode), a direct current source and an electrolyte, i.e. a conductive liquid such as water or alkaline compounds, are used to separate the different substances of a compound.


    Since hydrogen (H2) occurs almost exclusively in bound form, its compound must be dissolved. In water electrolysis, two water molecules (2H2O) are split into two hydrogen molecules (2H2) and one oxygen molecule (O2).

    "We are convinced that hydrogen can be a solution for the energy transition."


    Decarbonization of industry and
    Development of a hydrogen infrastructure

    HydrOxy Hub Walsum

    STEAG supplies green hydrogen for green steel from Duisburg

    A water electrolysis plant with a capacity of up to 520 Megawatt (MW) will be built on the site of the former Walsum colliery by 2026.

    The hydrogen produced here in the future will be green. This means that it will have been produced using renewable energies and will therefore be climate-neutral. It will then be delivered to thyssenkrupp's steel plant barely more than two kilometers away. There the green hydrogen will help decarbonize steel production at Europe's largest steel site, i.e. make it climate-neutral by dispensing with CO2-intensive coke. To this end thyssenkrupp Steel will build a first so-called direct reduction plant in Duisburg by mid-2026, which can then be operated with hydrogen from STEAG. The two companies signed a corresponding agreement in principle on the supply of hydrogen in the beginning of 2022.

    In addition to the electrolysis plant itself, the project also includes the construction of two new pipelines to transport both hydrogen and oxygen from Walsum to the steel plant in the Duisburg district of Bruckhausen. The close proximity of hydrogen production and offtake is a particular advantage for both STEAG and thyssenkrupp, as the project is not dependent on the construction of a transport pipeline network in order to be realized.


    In addition, STEAG's power plant site in Duisburg-Walsum is ideally equipped in terms of energy infrastructure - from a connection to the high-voltage grid and a large battery storage system to support grid stability to a connection to the existing natural gas transport network, which could also be converted for hydrogen transport in the future.

    Important steps have already been taken on the way to realizing the project: The successful feasibility study was recently followed by the submission of a funding application to the European Union's "Innovation Fund". At the same time, initial talks with potential co-investors have begun. The hydrogen lighthouse project, which is unique in this dimension to date, has an investment volume of around 650 million euros.

    A final investment decision is expected to be made by early 2023. In this context, the project also has the express support of the German government: Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck has specifically pledged this in a "Letter of Support".



    Stefanie Rehpöhler



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    HydroHub Fenne

    The hydrogen infrastructure project for Saarland

    The project outline for the hydrogen infrastructure project "HydroHub Fenne", which STEAG drafted together with the project partners Siemens Energy, the Institute for Future Energy and Material Flow Systems (IZES gGmbH) and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI GmbH) and submitted to the ideas competition "Reallabor der Energiewende" of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, was selected from 90 entries and found eligible for funding. With the selected projects, the German government wants to accelerate the expansion of hydrogen technologies and the establishment of sector coupling and bring them to market maturity.

    The core element of the HydroHub is an electrolyzer with a capacity of around 53 Megawatt (MW), which will be built at the long-established STEAG site in Völklingen-Fenne by 2026. In the future, the green hydrogen produced there can make an important contribution to decarbonizing Saarland's industry and the mobility sector. Currently, several agreements in principle with regional companies on the supply of hydrogen and oxygen from Fenne are close to being concluded.

    But regardless of exactly where the green hydrogen from STEAG, i.e. produced by means of renewable energies and thus climate-neutral, will be used in the future - it can make an important contribution in many areas to Germany achieving the climate targets it has set itself.

    It is conceivable, for example, that green hydrogen will in future help the steel industry to replace CO2-intensive coke in pig iron production. Hydrogen can also be added to the regional natural gas network and supply hydrogen filling stations for fuel cell vehicles in the Saarland. In particular, hydrogen-powered buses could be used to supply local public transport. This variant also offers citizens direct added value in their daily lives in the form of reduced exhaust emissions in the cities.

    Finally, the heat generated by the production of hydrogen can be fed into the network of the Saar District Heating Association (FVS). A further option is the time-delayed reconversion of hydrogen into electricity by using it in highly energy-efficient gas and steam turbine plants when, for example, there is a dark lull, i.e. when the sun does not shine sufficiently and there is also no wind, so that renewable energies alone cannot meet Germany's energy needs.

    Project development is already well advanced. Furthermore, HydroHub Fenne has successfully cleared the first hurdles on the way to notification as an "Important Project of Common European Interest" (IPCEI). In addition, HydroHub Fenne is integrated into a cross-border project network with partners from France and Luxembourg: together they form the "Grande Region Hydrogen" (GRH). The goal is the successful ramp-up of a hydrogen economy in the European network.



    Patrick Grünewald 



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    Color theory hydrogen

    In the current discussion, hydrogen is often assigned certain color properties; there is talk of "green", "turquoise", "blue" or "grey" hydrogen. The respective colors stand for the respective emission load of the hydrogen labeled in this way. This in turn depends on the way in which the hydrogen was produced.

    Green hydrogen

    Green hydrogen

    Green hydrogen is produced by electrolysis, with the electricity used for this purpose coming from renewable sources such as wind or solar energy.

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    Turquoise hydrogen

    Turquoise hydrogen

    Turquoise hydrogen is produced from natural gas by methane pyrolysis (methane splitting).

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    Blue hydrogen

    Blue hydrogen

    Blue hydrogen is produced in the same way as gray hydrogen - with the crucial difference that the CO2 released in the process is captured and stored.

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    Grey hydrogen

    Grey hydrogen

    Grey hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels such as natural gas or coal.

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    Hydrogen - the green solution for a climate-neutral future


    Who can I contact at STEAG regarding hydrogen?

    Your contact persons at STEAG are Mr. Karl Resch and Mr. Philipp Brammen.

    Karl Resch
    Tel.: +49 (201) 801-3532

    Philipp Brammen
    Tel.: +49 (201) 801-2435

    What is the best way to reach you?

    By phone or via mail. We look forward to hearing from you!