Industrial gas giant Air Liquide has announced plans to build a plant to produce renewable hydrogen by electrolysis. Located in Oberhausen, Germany, the first phase of the project will see operations beginning in early 2023 and at a capacity of 20 megawatts (MW), reaching a total capacity of 30 MW in its second phase.

In order to ensure the project is completed efficiently the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy has granted public funding.

The unique nature of the project will see the new Proton-Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolyser being integrated into the existing local pipeline infrastructure of Air Liquide. This will allow renewable hydrogen produced from water and renewable electricity to supply one of the most industrialised regions of Germany.

Commenting on the further development of the energy transition, Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker, Parliamentary State Secretary, Federal Ministry of Economics, said, “The market ramp-up of the H2 economy offers great economic opportunities, especially after the impact of the Corona Pandemic.”

“The Ministry of Economics has therefore been working at full speed for a year to create the regulatory and legal framework. Now we need concrete and ambitious projects.”

Continuing, she stated that this project demonstrates how green hydrogen can be used to sustainably transform industry as well as certain transport sectors, as well as ensuring a strong signal for the positioning of the Rhine-Ruhr region in the hydrogen sector.

Planned to be the first large-scale renewable hydrogen production connected to both existing hydrogen and oxygen pipelines, there are nearly 15 large industrial sites already connected today. The scale of the project’s infrastructure means that a wide variety of sectors in the region will be supported, including steel, chemicals, refining and mobility.

François Jackow, Executive Vice President and member of the Air Liquide Group’s Executive Committee supervising Europe Industries activities, praised the support the project has received, saying, “We highly value the support of the German Ministry of Economic Affairs to this groundbreaking project.”

He continued, “Leveraging on Air Liquide’s existing hydrogen pipeline network, the renewable hydrogen produced will accelerate the decarbonisation of the Rhine-Ruhr industrial basin and it will foster clean mobility in a densely populated region.”

Noting the burgeoning interest in sustainable hydrogen, Jackow also mentioned that the construction of the plant will mark the first realisation of the partnership Air Liquide and Siemens Energy created to enable the emergence of a sustainable hydrogen economy in Europe.

The project is being developed in line with Air Liquide’s Sustainable Development objectives, which include contributing to the development of a low-carbon society with hydrogen as one of its key levers.