German hydrogen pipeline planned to aid green industry shift

FRANKFURT, March 18 (Reuters) - A group of gas grid operators, oil and utility firms is planning a 130-kilometre hydrogen pipeline to supply industrial customers in north-west Germany, Open Grid Europe (OGE) said.

German companies are keen to convert power from renewables into hydrogen, which emits water when it burns in oxygen rather than the CO2 released by coal, oil and natural gas. Germany is due to adopt a hydrogen strategy soon.

OGE, which is part of the consortium including BP, speciality chemicals firm Evonik, grid firm Nowega and RWE Generation, said that the pipeline will supply chemicals plants and refineries from a hydrogen plant to be built by RWE at Lingen in Lower Saxony from 2022.

The target sites for the pipeline would be Lingen as well as Marl and Gelsenkirchen in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The transport link would convert existing, but underused, natural gas pipelines and be open for use to third parties, with OGE only offering transport services.

However, German antitrust and energy regulations do not yet provide for a legal framework for this type of operations.

The project is called GET H2 Nukleus, playing on the name of the Get H2 pilot plant planned by RWE, which is envisaged to have a capacity of 100 megawatts (MW).

This is a similar size to other German pilots such as one planned by OGE and sector peer Amprion, called Hybridge, and Element Eins, a joint project by TenneT IPO-TTH.AS, Gasunie and Thyssengas.

BP and Evonik have industrial interests in the region, while RWE intends to feed the plant from its wind power plants.

Industry uses an estimated 55 terawatt hours (TWh) of fossil-fuel derived hydrogen in Germany, where project developers are urging Berlin to address the legislative hurdles.

Switching to ‘green’ hydrogen would reduce its carbon emissions while throwing a lifeline to gas producers, importers, grid and storage cavern operators. (Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Alexander Smith)