Sustainable Business

Uniper may turn Wilhelmshaven coal plant site into hydrogen hub

2 minute read

The logo of German energy utility company Uniper SE is pictured in the company's headquarters in Duesseldorf, Germany, March 10, 2020. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen/File Photo

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  • Uniper could build ammonia import terminal, electrolysis
  • Project could take off in second half of decade
  • Could supply 10% of German green hydrogen demand by 2030

FRANKFURT, April 14 (Reuters) - German utility Uniper (UN01.DE) is studying the conversion of its coal-fired power plant site at Wilhelmshaven on Germany’s North Sea coast into an import and electrolysis hub to tap into emerging demand for “green” hydrogen.

Policymakers in Europe aim to produce green hydrogen from renewable power through electrolysis, to replace coal and gas-based hydrogen and open up new areas of usage to substitute oil products across manufacturing industries, heating and transport.

Wilhelmshaven was retired last December under an agreed exit from carbon-emitting coal, while Germany will accelerate the build-up of renewable electricity and low-carbon hydrogen to reach climate goals.

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Uniper, which under the steer of majority-owner Fortum (FORTUM.HE) has committed itself to a more eco-friendly course, said on Wednesday Wilhelmshaven’s transformation could provide 10% of German hydrogen demand by 2030.

Uniper said the project could come on stream in the second half of this decade.

A 410 MW electrolysis plant would supply hydrogen to local industry and the national hydrogen network, which in future decades will be developed on the basis of repurposed natural gas pipeline grids, according to goals being pursued by gas transport operators.

An import terminal for ammonia from overseas would be equipped with an ammonia cracker to produce green hydrogen.

The terminal and electrolysis plant together could supply 295,000 tonnes of green hydrogen, providing Germany with a pillar of supply, which experts say hinges on import availability.

Uniper did not say how much it would spend, but added it had applied a few weeks ago for funding under the EU's Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) scheme, which grants exemptions from strict state-aid rules.

Uniper abandoned plans for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Wilhelmshaven last year due to the absence of binding consumer bookings.

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Reporting by Vera Eckert Editing by David Holmes

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