Germany to subsidise four hydrogen power plants

Germany is to subsidise four hydrogen power plants totalling 10GW capacity, with tenders to be put out ‘at short notice’.

The quartet of ‘hydrogen-ready’ 2.5 GW gas-fired plants will completely switch to hydrogen at a changeover date to be determined in 2032, between 2035 and 2040.

The plants should be located at ‘system-related locations’ with subsidies in the region of €16bn financed by the Climate and Transformation Fund.

“Existing barriers to the construction and operation of electrolysers should be dismantled without restriction and all possibilities should be used, in particular to accelerate the addition of electrolysers,” according to a BMWK Ministry statement.

“There must be no double burdens of charges and fees on electricity for storage and electrolysis, so that there are market and systemic incentives to produce hydrogen. The use of surplus electricity is made possible without restriction; all existing regulatory hurdles will be removed as much as possible.”

In August last year, BMWK announced it wanted to tender for 8.8GW of new plants operated with hydrogen from the get-go, with another tender for up to 15 GW of gas-fired plants to be transitioned to hydrogen by 2035.

RWE plans to build hydrogen-ready gas-fired power plants at its own former power plant sites in Germany to help achieve the goal of phasing out coal by 2030.

The multinational energy company has ‘laid the foundations’ for building a hydrogen-capable combined-cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plant with an output of 800 MW at its Weisweiler site by the end of the decade.

Power plants that run exclusively on hydrogen are funded up to 500 MW as part of energy research.

Using hydrogen in power plants presents a number of challenges however, across production, energy intensity, storage, transportation and infrastructure, end-use efficiency, cost, safety and scaling.

Michael Liebreich’s Clean Hydrogen Ladder does not see potential for hydrogen in major power systems.

“In the power system, you won’t routinely use hydrogen to generate power because the cycle losses – going from power to green hydrogen, storing it, moving it around and then using it to generate electricity – are simply too big. The standout use for clean hydrogen here is for long-term storage,” he states.

But countries continue to explore its potential. Equinor and SSE Thermal are jointly developing two low-carbon power stations in the UK’s Humber region, comprising one of the first power stations with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, and the other will be reportedly the first fully hydrogen-fuelled power station.

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