Mario Mehren, CEO of Wintershall Dea

Wintershall Dea: Hydrogen from natural gas instrumental in decarbonisation of energy

German oil and gas company Wintershall Dea believes that hydrogen from natural gas will be instrumental in the decarbonisation of energy system and that the much-needed hydrogen market will not succeed without natural gas.

Mario Mehren, CEO of Wintershall Dea; Credit: Wintershall Dea/Frank Schinski

As reported by DNV GL, carbon-free hydrogen production, transmission, and distribution are now widely recognized as central components to the oil and gas industry’s decarbonisation efforts.

Hydrogen is supposed to play a key role in the decarbonisation of the energy system – but only if it is harvested from renewable energies, that is according to the German government’s draft National Hydrogen Strategy (NHS).

“The German government is losing sight of what the actual objective is. For our ambitious climate targets and hydrogen strategy to succeed, it is not so important whether the hydrogen comes from natural gas or renewables: what is important is that its production is climate-neutral”, points out Mario Mehren, CEO of Wintershall Dea, with regard to the draft strategy at the SPD Economic Forum, in which more than 500 listeners participated.

Subsidies trap

Wintershall Dea has called for the National Hydrogen Strategy to be open to all technologies.

“If we want to ensure the rapid development of a functioning and viable hydrogen market we cannot leave any potential technologies on the shelf. Otherwise, we risk falling into a new subsidies trap, and thus the failure of the strategy.

“We need an approach that is open to all technologies, one that considers all climate-friendly hydrogen production methods”, Mehren continued.

While other countries such as the Netherlands and Japan are forging ahead, Germany runs the risk of missing out – instead of playing a leading role in the global hydrogen market, Wintershall Dea pointed out.

The publication of the National Hydrogen Strategy has been delayed for months. On top of that, Wintershall Dea pointed out that the hasty decision to limit it to green hydrogen – the one produced from renewable energy – doesn’t help anyone because at the moment hydrogen cannot be produced from renewables competitively or in sufficient quantities.

Thanks to its considerable price and volume advantages, decarbonised blue and turquoise hydrogen from natural gas can make up for the shortfalls in renewables capacities and accelerate the much-needed development of the hydrogen market.

After all, renewable hydrogen will also benefit from a functioning market, the German company concluded.

According to DNV GL’s recent report, named Heading for Hydrogen, while hydrogen gas produced from renewable energy – so-called ‘green hydrogen’ – is the industry’s ultimate destination, analysis shows that the sector can only realistically scale up to large volumes and infrastructure with carbon-free hydrogen produced from fossil fuels combined with CCS technology, or what is known as ‘blue hydrogen’.

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Wintershall Dea is currently conducting research together with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) into the CO2-free industrial production of turquoise hydrogen from natural gas.

Mehren emphasized the company’s commitment and support of the German government’s climate targets and concluded: “Hence, we wish to play a key role in the decarbonisation of our energy system. And we firmly believe that hydrogen from natural gas will be instrumental in achieving this“.

In other news related to the development of the hydrogen market, DEME Offshore has joined the team behind the PosHYdon project, which aims to integrate the offshore wind, offshore gas, and offshore hydrogen as part of the first offshore green hydrogen plant in the Dutch sector of the North Sea.

The PosHYdon pilot is an initiative of Nexstep, the Dutch association for decommissioning and reuse, and TNO, the Dutch organisation for applied scientific research, in collaboration with the industry.