Tobias Moldenhauer, Head of Hydrogen in the Hydrogen and Large-scale Storage business area at EWE AG in Oldenburg.
"What it needs now is a hydrogen acceleration bill".
TES-H2 and EWE are planning to build a 500 MW electrolyzer at the Wilhelmshaven Green Energy Hub. With this, the two companies are taking another important step for the energy transition.
The electrolyzer is scheduled to come on stream from 2028. The capacity will initially be 500 megawatts, and will later be expanded to a total capacity of 1 gigawatt with another planned plant. The signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two companies is in line with Germany's energy strategy to extract clean energy from the North Sea and expand supplies for hydrogen production. More info on the project can be found here.
Lis Blume from the NWN took this cooperation as an opportunity to talk to Tobias Moldenhauer, Head of Hydrogen in the Hydrogen and Large Storage Business Unit of EWE AG.
Tobias, together with TES-H2, EWE is building a 500 MW electrolyzer in Wilhelmshaven. In a second step, the capacity is then to be expanded to 1 GW. Can you briefly describe the significance of this project for the energy transition in Lower Saxony and Germany?
We are firmly convinced that the energy transition and the associated shift away from fossil fuels will succeed with green hydrogen. In this way, we are creating a way to make renewable energies storable. Green hydrogen will thus become an important component of the energy future in the region where the best conditions exist for the center of a green, European hydrogen economy: northwest Germany. Here in the region, the share of renewable energies is high and there are numerous infrastructure components, such as gas storage facilities and one of the largest gas distribution networks in Germany. All the measures and projects build on each other and have a common goal: to drive the market ramp-up of the hydrogen economy. We want to tackle and drive this forward together with partners like TES. To this end, we recently sealed a joint declaration of intent.
This is not your first project in the hydrogen economy. What "learnings" from the other projects can you apply here?
We are still at the beginning of numerous hydrogen projects along the entire value chain, from generation, transport and storage to application in industry and heavy-duty transport. We are cooperating with other companies and jointly developing ideas and projects to drive the ramp-up of the hydrogen economy. We already have a hydrogen production demonstrator in operation and a hydrogen filling station, and others are currently being implemented. Of course, we are also taking the findings from this into the development of large-scale projects. We are also already creating facts in hydrogen storage. We are currently building a test cavern in Rüdersdorf, Brandenburg, and together with DLR are testing the storage and retrieval of hydrogen in an underground cavity and the quality of the hydrogen after it has been removed from the cavern. We already reached an important milestone a few weeks ago: The 1,000-meter supply line to the cavern has been proven to be leak-proof.
In order to be able to submit a funding application, concrete preliminary project planning is first necessary. With the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between EWE and TES-H2, i.e. a joint declaration of intent, we are only now entering into this preliminary planning. As things stand, we will therefore also be dependent on subsidies for this electrolysis project.
The new government of Lower Saxony is talking about Germany's speed and energy transition turbo for such projects. Has the turbo already arrived in practice?
We very much hope that approval processes will become leaner for energy transition projects. With the new LNG Acceleration Act, Germany has shown that this is possible. What is needed now is an appropriate legal framework for the swift implementation of all energy transition projects, for example through a hydrogen acceleration law.
You want to get the green electricity for electrolysis from the wind farms in the North Sea. Will offshore wind be developed to the point where sufficient energy is available for electrolysis by 2028?
The expansion of renewables - whether onshore or offshore wind energy - naturally goes hand in hand with the expansion of the hydrogen economy. We therefore assume that by the time our planned electrolyzer in Wilhelmshaven goes into operation in 2028, the expansion of wind energy will have progressed accordingly, so that we do not fear any bottleneck in the procurement of green electricity for hydrogen production. We are of course in close consultation with the grid operators on this.
Thank you very much.