Photo: Illustration (Courtesy of Uniper)

Uniper ditches LNG for hydrogen in Wilhelmshaven

German energy company Uniper has decided to look into the potential of developing a hydrogen hub in Wilhelmshaven instead of the planned LNG import terminal.

Uniper ditches LNG for hydrogen for Wilhelmshaven
Illustration (Courtesy of Uniper)

Under the name Green Wilhelmshaven, Uniper is working on a feasibility study for the development of a national hydrogen hub.

An import terminal for green ammonia is planned, Uniper said in its statement.

The terminal is planned to be equipped with an “ammonia cracker” for producing green hydrogen and will also be connected to the planned hydrogen network.

A 410-megawatt electrolysis plant is also planned, which – in combination with the import terminal – would be capable of supplying around 295,000 metric tons or 10 per cent of the demand expected for the whole of Germany in 2030.

The generated hydrogen will primarily be used to supply local industry, but it will also be possible to feed it into the national hydrogen network.

This approach will help to solve one of the key problems of energy transition: security of supply. The NH3 splitting plant for producing green hydrogen would be the first scaled plant of its kind.

Originally, Uniper explored the idea of constructing a floating import terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG) at the Wilhelmshaven site. In October 2020, a market test to show binding interest proved that there is currently not enough interest in the LNG sector in terms of booking large, long-term capacities for LNG regasification in Germany.

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Commenting on the decision, David Bryson, COO Uniper, said, “It is essential that Germany and Europe remain industrial powerhouses: If we want to achieve this and still hit our ambitious climate protection targets, we need hydrogen to power sectors such as steel production, the chemicals industry or in freight, shipping and air transport.”

In other words, Bryson noted that ‘green molecules’ are needed as well as ‘green electrons’.

“We need to get hydrogen out of the laboratory and start using it in large-scale applications and marketable industrial solutions — we should make it into a commodity and exploit its wide variety of uses.,” he said.

He added that one way of achieving this is to import green ammonia and convert it into hydrogen, which is something the company is looking at for Wilhelmshaven.

“Currently, Germany plans to generate 14 TWh of green hydrogen in 2030, but the demand for that year is forecast to be 90–100 TWh — the discrepancy between these two figures is abundantly clear. We will be heavily dependent on imports if we want to use hydrogen to help us achieve our climate goals,” Bryson said.

Commissioning of the new terminal is planned for the second half of this decade, depending on national import demand and export opportunities.