“Looking at ongoing discussions, current movements and topics such as net carbon zero, it is clear to me that we need to question and challenge ourselves when looking to decarbonise hard to abate sectors.”

Those were the words of Juergen Wollschlaeger, CEO of Raffinerie Heide as he joined H2 View’s Managing Editor Rob Cockerill for H2 View’s latest webinar.

“Last week, we sat down with two visionaries who hold a passion for hydrogen and a determination to make change happen. Today, we are in conversation with another visionary, Juergen Wollschlaeger,” Cockerill said welcoming the German CEO.

Raffinerie Heide, a company that originally started out as a traditional crude oil refinery over 100 years ago, is now shifting its efforts towards a cleaner energy future through the production of green hydrogen and cleaner synthetic aviation fuel on an industrial scale.

Speaking to Cockerill Wollschlaeger told viewers, “We are a traditional crude oil refinery, in other words, we are transforming crude oil into products you are buying at the filling station, or other products that are providing heat and mobility to society.”

“However, is clear to me that in the modern world we need to question and challenge ourselves and our business model, which is why we started looking into the subject of green hydrogen, and into the subject of how we decarbonise hard to abate sectors.”

“At the centre of our vision here at Heide is the installation of an industrial scale electrolysis unit, providing green hydrogen to the refinery and providing the first step in to what I hope will be a sequence of investments and projects we want to execute, in order to end up at a business model that still provides heat a mobility to our customers but on a more sustainable basis.”

Speaking exclusively to H2 View on the webinar, Wollschlaeger explained that hydrogen has been of interest to the company for many years now as part of an effort to change the face of refinery long into the future.

“Back in 2011, we started looking into products, at that stage much smaller projects such as a one-megawatt pilot. We looked very closely into it and even got very close to a final investment decision, but neither the environment or economics were right at the time.”

“Then, fast forward to 2018, we were made aware by the local Regional Government that the German Government was planning to set up a funding programme to support projects looking into energy transition for hard to abate sectors, particularly heat and industrial application of natural gases.”

“We were then at that time working very hard with the local agency to draw a plan. Once we had the concept, we made up our minds of who to partner with to not only get a great technical concept, but to get great partners on board that will help us and support us to build up what I would call the hydrogen ecosystem at Heide.”

Speaking about the company’s partnerships, Wollschlaeger told viewers that the company is currently working with the likes of Ørsted, Holcim, EDF and thyssenkrupp, along with a number of regional and local customers.

Working alongside its industry partners, Heide has set itself some astounding goals, helping to decarbonise the industry, but also contribute to Germany’s net zero target but 2050.

“What we really want to achieve, is to take the excess electricity from the on and off shore windfarms located around the refinery and turn it into three main products: Heat, which we want to distribute into the heating network, oxygen, which we will provide to Holcim so they can decarbonise their process, and onsite, green hydrogen which we are planning to provide to the local gas grid.”

“Our big vision is to build a 700megawatt facility by 2030. We want to enhance this, with not only a bigger electrolysis unit, but also by building a methanol synthesis plant, taking the CO2 emissions from Holcim, combining it with the hydrogen and being able to create synthetic fuel.”

“Particularly, one of our main focuses for the synthetic fuel is the aviation industry. We have a sister project called KEROSyN100 running, which is at this stage a research and development project, focusing on the best approach and best technology in order to turn CO2 and green hydrogen into synthetic aviation fuel.”

Speaking to Wollschlaeger, Cockerill asked if they company has faced any resistance on its journey as it sets out its goal of transforming refining from its traditional origin to a clean and green facility.

“Looking at what is going on in the world, how sensitive people are getting around sustainability and how the subject of net zero is dominating the press at the moment, I would argue there is not a lot of resistance.”

“If you look into our industry, it is clear that if you ignore what is going on, there will be a time in the near future where our business model won’t work anymore. That being said, it is clear to me that we need to change and adapt.”

“There is huge support from the employees here but also the people in the region to embark on this journey.”

The full webinar can be watched here.