07.12.2022  |  News

Just over one year of the Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park: Successes and challenges on the road to a climate-neutral future

Just over a year after the start of the Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park innovation project, the six consortium partners can look back on the first important successes in the technical implementation of the project and have their sights firmly set on the next steps. At the same time, however, there are still hurdles to overcome together with politicians and the administration, especially the lack of a regulatory framework, in order to be able to realise the economic side of the project.


With the release of funding as part of the 7th Energy Research Programme of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) in September last year, the consortium partners have started work on the individual sub-projects of the Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park at full speed. The focus was on engineering planning, which is also the basis for the various authorisation and notification procedures. 

Terrawatt Planungsgesellschaft mbH - responsible for the construction of the wind farm - has focussed its efforts on the approval process and expects the approval notice to be issued in the coming weeks. Uniper also initially focussed on the planning and approval of the electrolyser. The process is also expected to be finalised shortly, and with it the notice of approval. In addition, a supplier for the electrolyser has already been secured through a calls for tenders. VNG Gasspeicher GmbH has already received approval from the Saxony-Anhalt State Mining Authority for the construction/conversion of the above-ground facility at the salt cavern to be repurposed for the storage of hydrogen and is currently working on the detailed planning for the above-ground facility. ONTRAS Gastransport GmbH carried out extensive pigging work to convert the existing gas pipeline to transport hydrogen. The results of this cleaning and diagnostic process will soon show what measures need to be taken to ensure the safe transport of high-purity hydrogen. In parallel, the DBI – Gastechnologisches Institut gGmbH Freiberg – together with the partners, developed an overall layout with all interfaces and individual layouts of the assemblies as part of the accompanying research and development work in order to enable the unprecedented coupling of all stages of the value chain. Only the final development of the business model still poses challenges for the consortium partners around VNG AG, despite the completed scenario analysis for various business models. 

Current status 

“In addition to the technical developments for the approval procedures, we have been working intensively on the development of an economic business model in recent months, but are not yet able to finalise this,” says Prof. Dr. Hartmut Krause, Deputy Project Manager and Managing Director of the DBI. He points out that “the lack of a final draft of the Delegated Act on RED II and its translation into national law, particularly in 37 and 38 of the BImSchV, have given rise to much uncertainty. We therefore do not know for certain whether the wind power generated and utilised across all stages of the value chain and our green hydrogen can be consistently classified as green and climate-neutral – this must be rectified as quickly as possible.”

“The current regulatory situation causes a great deal of investment uncertainty for the consortium and prevents us from naming a marketable price for our product and thus also from concluding contracts with interested customers. The time delay in creating the legal framework exacerbates this situation for us in terms of investment costs. We originally projected a total investment of EUR 139 million - of which EUR 34 million was to be subsidised by the BMWK. We already know that this total investment sum will have to be adjusted upwards, as procurement prices are rising daily. As a consortium, we do not yet see ourselves in a position to release these substantial investments across the individual partners under these circumstances, as originally planned,” added Cornelia Müller Pagel, Project Manager and Head of Green Gases at VNG AG. 


On the technical side, the partners are pressing ahead with the project despite the challenges. In the coming months, they will prepare the site for the wind farm, electrolyser and the storage facility’s above-ground plant. In addition, the safety concept for storage operation and a concept for bidirectional gas volume measurement will be completed by May next year. Assuming that the necessary investment decisions can be made in 2023 as currently planned, the wind farm is expected to be commissioned at the turn of the year 2023/24 and the electrolyser together with the gas purification and gas volume measurement in the third quarter of 2025. However, the transport pipeline can be converted as early as the third quarter of 2024 and then undergo initial tests. As things stand, the consortium will be able to commence end-to-end research operations across the entire value chain from the third quarter of 2025.


Katharina Wilsdorf 

T: +49 341 2310 9033
E: presse_at_energiepark-bad-lauchstaedt.de