RWE plans to bring Australian ‘green’ hydrogen to Europe

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The headquarters of the German power supplier RWE, which plans to break up subsidiary Innogy and share its assets with rival E.ON, is pictured in Essen, Germany, April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo
  • German utility in preliminary deal with Australian firm
  • Envisions future import flows of green hydrogen
  • Brunsbuettel terminal could handle imports

BERLIN, April 15 (Reuters) - Germany’s RWE (RWEG.DE) plans to bring hydrogen produced in Australia to Europe, as big energy firms look to create new global routes for the cleaner alternative to fossil fuels.

RWE Supply & Trading said on Thursday it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Australia's The Hydrogen Utility Pty Ltd (H2U). Timing and financial details were not disclosed.

Hydrogen is considered "green" when produced from renewable power such as wind or sunshine through electrolysis.

The European Union is promoting its use as an alternative to coal and gas-derived hydrogen, and also as a substitute for oil and gas products in manufacturing, heating and transport.

RWE said a planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Brunsbuettel, on Germany's North Sea coast, could potentially handle future imports of H2U's green hydrogen.

German rival Uniper (UN01.DE) said on Wednesday it was considering converting its coal-fired power plant at Wilhelmshaven, also on the North Sea, into a hydrogen hub.

LNG projects in Germany have not taken off because the region is well supplied with pipeline gas from Russia and Norway.

The advent of green hydrogen - supported by Germany with a 9 billion euros ($10.8 billion) programme agreed last summer - could perhaps leapfrog LNG ambitions.

"As a globally active trader of commodities, we have a lot of experience with shipping energy carriers – including Australian LNG – around the globe and see ourselves as a facilitator for global hydrogen trading," said Javier Moret, global head of LNG at RWE Supply & Trading.

H2U, in which Japan's Mitsubishi (7011.T) has invested money, is active in Australia and New Zealand. In southern Australia, it is working on a 75-megawatt (MW) electrolysis plant called the Eyre Peninsula Gateway Project.

This could supply 40,000 tonnes a year of ammonia, a carrier gas for hydrogen.

($1 = 0.8347 euros)

Writing by Madeline Chambers, editing by Kirsti Knolle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Senior power correspondent for Germany with more than 30 years experience and focused on deregulated energy markets for power and gas, companies, networks, exchanges, renewables, policy, storage, future transport and hydrogen. A German native who has studied and worked in the United States and Britain.