18.07.2019  |  News

German government recognises projects for generating, storing and transporting green hydrogen: Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park approved for the application phase of the 7th Energy Research Programme

Recognition at the highest level for Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park: The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) gave a positive assessment of the company at the 7th German Economic Forum. Energy research programme of the German government, the project submitted for the “Real-world laboratories of the energy transition” ideas competition. Federal Economy Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) announced on Thursday, 18 July 2019 that the combination of generation, storage and transport of green hydrogen is eligible as a real-world laboratory and is approved for the second round of the two-stage application process. Behind the Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park are VNG Gasspeicher GmbH (VGS), ONTRAS Gastransport GmbH, DBI - Gastechnologisches Institut gGmbH Freiberg, Terrawatt Planungsgesellschaft mbH and Uniper Energy Storage GmbH. This consortium is planning to manufacture, store, transport and economically use green hydrogen on an industrial scale and under real conditions in Bad Lauchstädt in the southern part of the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt from 2020. 

“We’re delighted that the BMWi has assessed our Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park concept positively and has agreed in principle to fund the project as a real-world laboratory. We see this as an important signal that the federal government is ready to give greater incentives to develop power-to-gas technology,” says Bernd Protze, CEO of VNG Gasspeicher GmbH (VGS). “We will now examine the detailed requirements to be met for an application for funding for a real-world laboratory. Living laboratories are a key element in setting up technologies such as power-to-gas on an industrial scale as quickly as possible and thus initiating the market roll-out for green hydrogen technologies.” 

Eckhardt Rümmler, COO of Uniper: “The energy transition will only succeed if we are able to store renewable energy, and in so doing make it reliable. Up to now, no persuasive economic solution has been available. Our project addresses exactly this issue: We combine the production of green hydrogen from wind power together with the transportation as well as the storage and use of hydrogen for commercial purposes. If it proves successful on a large scale, we’ve found a core component for a secure and sustainable supply of energy. For many currently operating wind power generators that will soon see direct marketing and EEG [renewable energy] subsidies run out, this facility offers new prospects that are both attractive and sustainable.” 

Kay Okon, Head of the Engineering and Project Management Department at VGS, was also pleased: “We are pleased with the approval and the positive evaluation by the BMWi. The decision confirms our assessment that green hydrogen will be a key energy source for the successful implementation of the energy transition.” 

The project was submitted in response to the call for concepts at the beginning of April with a project outline in order to apply for funding from the BMWi. In the second stage, a detailed application for funding must be submitted. Real-world laboratories for the energy transition were established in the 7th Energy Research Programme of the federal government in order to accelerate the transfer of technology and innovation from research to practice. Funding totalling up to EUR 100 million per year is earmarked for the period 2019 to 2022. 

In the Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park, renewable electricity from a nearby wind farm that is currently being planned is to be converted into green hydrogen by means of a large electrolysis system with a capacity of up to 35 MW. The hydrogen obtained can be temporarily stored in a specially equipped salt cavern and fed into the hydrogen network of Central Germany’s “Chemical Triangle” region via a natural gas pipeline to be rededicated and used for urban mobility and energy solutions. 

The planned underground salt cavern is to be specially equipped to store up to 50 million cubic metres of hydrogen. “It will be the first hydrogen cavern in continental Europe and the only one in the world to store green hydrogen, i.e. hydrogen produced using renewable electricity,” explains Prof. Hartmut Krause, Managing Director of DBI. The capacity thus exceeds the energy buffered in pumped storage power plants in Germany by a factor of around four. From his point of view, “energy storage research is making a huge leap in scale.” The Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park: VNG Gasspeicher GmbH (VGS), ONTRAS Gastransport GmbH, DBI - Gastechnologisches Institut gGmbH Freiberg, Terrawatt Planungsgesellschaft mbH and Uniper SE are planning the construction of a large-scale electrolysis plant with a capacity of up to 35 MW in Bad Lauchstädt to convert renewable electricity from a wind farm to be built specifically for the project into green hydrogen. This hydrogen is to be temporarily stored in the VGS salt cavern equipped for this purpose, then fed into the central German hydrogen network via an ONTRAS gas pipeline that is to be rededicated, and ultimately made available to the local chemical industry, for mobility and urban energy supply. For this purpose, the partners are using the existing natural gas and hydrogen infrastructure in eastern Germany. 

The Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park project is also part of the larger project “GreenHydroChem - Central German Chemical Triangle” with which the activities of HYPOS e.V. are being further developed. The association has been pooling and coordinating the expertise of business and science with regard to green hydrogen in central Germany and beyond since 2013. 

About the project partners 

VNG Gasspeicher GmbH (VGS) is currently the third largest gas storage operator in Germany with around 2.2 billion cubic metres of active storage capacity. As a wholly owned subsidiary of VNG AG and with its headquarters in Leipzig, VGS has almost 50 years of experience in the construction and operation of underground gas storage facilities and the related technological processes. The core business of VGS is the operation of storage facilities and the marketing of storage capacity. In addition, VGS acts as the technical operator for third-party storage facilities and provides engineering services for its customers in the areas of plant construction and measurement technology. More at www.vng-gasspeicher.de. 

ONTRAS Gastransport GmbH, headquartered in Leipzig, is an interregional transmission system operator forming, part of the European gas transport system. ONTRAS operates the second longest transmission network in Germany with over 7,000 kilometres of pipeline and around 450 network connection points for customer gas transport. As a reliable partner, the company reconciles the interests of transport customers, traders, regional network operators and renewable gas producers. 22 biogas facilities and two power-to-gas plants feed green gases (biomethane, synthetic methane or hydrogen) into the ONTRAS network. More at www.ontras.com. 

The DBI – Gastechnologisches Institut gGmbH Freiberg is a research facility of the German Gas and Water Association (DVGW e.V.). The institute conducts research into the entire supply chain of gaseous energy sources in numerous projects. Projects to integrate green hydrogen into the gas supply have been in under way since 2005. The Institute’s experience ranges from underground gas storage and transport through to hydrogen utilisation technologies in industry and households. The DBI Group is a founding member of HYPOS e.V. and is responsible for the area of hydrogen transport and storage. More at www.dbi-gruppe.de. 

Terrawatt is a medium-sized engineering company based in Saxony, which has been active for over 20 years in the fields of wind energy and photovoltaics. Renewable energy projects are accompanied by experienced engineers over their entire life cycle. The know-how in the choice of location, meteorology, approval and infrastructure planning, grid connection, construction, operation and now also dismantling and repowering thus form the basis for the in-demand engineering and consulting services at home and abroad. More at www.terrawatt.de. 

Uniper is a leading international energy company with activities in more than 40 countries and around 11,000 employees. Its business is the secure supply of energy and related services. The main activities include power generation in Europe and Russia as well as global energy trading. Uniper operates gas storage facilities in Germany, Austria and the UK, and plays an important role in assuring a secure and flexible gas supply. Uniper is one of the first companies to be active in the power-to-gas sector and operates demonstration systems in Hamburg-Reitbrook and Falkenhagen. Uniper is headquartered in Dusseldorf. More at www.uniper.energy. 

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