Hydrogen Power Storage & Solutions East Germany (HYPOS), the network of German companies and research institutions including Siemens and Linde AG, is aiming to produce green hydrogen (H2) from wind farms, solar parks or biogas plants to be used for energy storage or to supply the chemical industry.

The project, sponsored by the German Federal Government and the state of Saxony-Anhalt, will encourage the adoption of renewable energies to produce green H2, thereby becoming less dependent on petrol and other fossil fuels.

Saxony-Anhalt is one of Germany’s pioneering regions with regard to developing renewable energy projects, especially wind, biomass and solar. 50% of the energy generated by these technologies is sold outside the state as excess power. However, a sustainable, value-adding alternative would be to use the surplus power to produce green H2 and store or process.

The H2 would be produced by means of central electrolytic plants supplied with power by wind farms, solar parks or biogas plants. It could then be used as an energy storage unit or transported via existing pipelines to reach a large number of consumers, for example for the chemical industry.

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“H2 could be used as a basic chemical” said Professor Wehrsphohn. “Plastics, fuels and pre-products for the cosmetics industry can be produced from it. Actually, the whole range for which petroleum-based systems are used today. That is the major advantage of our system: the regional value creation. We have the power here, we convert it into H2, and then we can supply our chemical chain directly and no longer need to purchase petroleum and natural gas from remote regions. And we are sustainable, as the power is acquired from renewable sources.”

Currently, the problem of excess power generation from wind farms is being addressed by shutting down the wind farms, when it could be exported instead. Saxony-Anhalt produces a lot of renewable energy with potential customers for the green H2 from the chemical industry. A pipeline runs along the A9 highway from Leipzig to Berlin, which is Germany’s second longest pipeline used to supply H2 at 150 kilometres long.

HYPOS is hoping to produce green H2 economically and safely by 2020. It could then be used as a fuel for H2 fuel-cell cars or used for heating. The project is also researching electrolysis to split water into H2 and oxygen, with the oxygen being used for purposes such as the biological cleaning of wastewater purification plants.