Essen — With the phase-out of nuclear power production in 2022 and the planned end of coal-fired power generation in 2038, it is clear that in Germany wind and solar energy will form the mainstays of the electricity supply in the future. But both renewable energy sources are subject to weather-related fluctuations. Hydrogen as an energy source can balance these fluctuations and thus becomes an important future building block for a successful energy transition.
For this reason, STEAG’s power plant site in Völklingen-Fenne in the Saarland is to be expanded to include the “HydroHub-Fenne”. “HydroHub-Fenne” means: Hydrogen is to be produced at the energy hub on an industrial scale.
STEAG GmbH, Siemens AG, the Institute for Future Energy and Material Flow Systems (IZES gGmbH) and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI GmbH) are participating in the ideas competition “Real Lab of the Energiewende” of the Federal Ministry of Economics with the project “HydroHub-Fenne” (BMWi). With the competition, the Federal Government wants to accelerate the expansion of hydrogen technologies and bring them to market maturity.
Accelerate sector coupling
A key role is played by electricity-based hydrogen production (electrolysis) based on renewable energies. Here, electricity from wind and sun is used to split water in the electrolysis process into oxygen and so-called “green hydrogen”. The hydrogen can then be used as a substitute for fossil fuels, making energy production CO2-free. For energy-intensive industries such as the steel industry and the chemical industry, the use of hydrogen can be a decisive step towards better environmental compatibility and climate neutrality.
The four project partners want to create a prototype with the “HydroHub-Fenne”, which can also be realized at other locations nationwide. In addition to reducing CO2 emissions, this will also create new jobs. A decision on whether the initiative will be able to submit a specific application for funding under the second phase of the competition is expected by the end of June. The project partners estimate an investment volume in the mid-double-digit million range.
Optimal conditions at the energy hub Fenne
The Fenne energy hub offers ideal conditions for gaining experience in a real laboratory for the operation and commercial use of the electrolysis process. Not only does the site have the necessary electricity, gas, heat and storage infrastructure, but also skilled employees who are already actively shaping the energy transition with their know-how. In addition, there is the proximity to the Saarland steel industry as a potential buyer for hydrogen. In addition, a link to the transport sector for hydrogen-powered vehicles is to be created.
The four partners enter new territory in Völklingen-Fenne, as the interaction of various components and systems will be tested there for the first time on an industrial scale. A new electrolyser, a large hydrogen storage tank and a new high-temperature heat pump meet, among other things, an existing large-battery system, a CMM CHP plant and an electrode boiler at the energy junction. Accordingly, all connections to electricity, heat and gas networks are available and usable. In addition, STEAG is examining the construction of a gas and steam power plant at the Fenne site in which hydrogen can be converted back into electricity on a large scale in a gas turbine.
STEAG is one of the leading energy producers in Germany and designs the energy turnaround at six power plant locations in Germany. For more than 80 years STEAG has stood for efficient and safe energy generation both nationally and internationally. STEAG plans, develops, implements, operates and markets highly efficient power plants and storage facilities. As an experienced partner, STEAG comprehensively supports its customers, offers tailor-made solutions in the area of electricity and heat supply as well as a wide range of energy services.
Siemens AG is an international technology group and one of the leading providers of efficient power generation and power transmission solutions, a pioneer in infrastructure solutions and automation, drive and software solutions for the industry. The company is also one of the largest manufacturers of energy-efficient resource-saving technologies. This also includes electrolysis technology and heat pumps. Siemens has been involved in the electrochemical conversion of hydrogen for four decades.
IZES (Institute for Future Energy and Material Flow Systems) gGmbH was founded in November 1999 at the University of Applied Sciences Saarland and deals with five interdisciplinary fields: energy markets, material flows, infrastructure & community development, environmental psychology and technical innovations. The goal is to promote science and environmental protection through application-oriented research and development. The approach of IZES gGmbH combines practice-related topics with scientific issues.
The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) GmbH is Germany’s leading business-oriented research institution in the field of innovative software technologies. In the international scientific world, DFKI is one of the world’s most important “Centers of Excellence”. Founded in 1988, DFKI has gained the reputation of being a competent and reliable partner for innovations in business, both nationally and internationally, through proactive and needs-oriented project work.