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    German Steelworks Eyes Blue Hydrogen Supply

Summary

Thyssenkrupp notes that German and EU regulatory clarification is needed before the plan can move forward.

by: Joe Murphy

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German Steelworks Eyes Blue Hydrogen Supply

German steel producer Thyssenkrupp is working with transmission system operator OGE and Norwegian oil and gas firm Equinor on supplying its Duisburg site with natural gas-derived blue hydrogen to reduce emissions, it said on January 12.

The three companies have completed a feasibility study for the project, initiated in October 2019 and known as H2morrow. They have concluded that the plan is technically feasible, and will continue working on details ahead of taking investment decisions.

Blue hydrogen will help the Duisburg site achieve nearly climate-neutral steel production in the short- and mid-term, during which time green hydrogen produced from water using renewable energy-powered electrolysis will not be available in sufficient quantities, Thyssenkrupp said. 

"The partners are convinced that blue hydrogen as a reliable and available technology has the potential to ramp up the European hydrogen market," the steel producer said. "Especially taking into consideration the recent decision by the EU to set more ambitious climate targets for 2030, blue hydrogen can play a significant role going forward as a viable and early source for nearly climate-neutral hydrogen in large quantities and therefore in achieving these goals."

Blue hydrogen will help establish the necessary infrastructure and market to spur development of other hydrogen types in the future, it said. The study estimates the cost of blue hydrogen at €58 ($70.7)/MWh, assuming a long-term average gas price of €23/MWh.

The companies have identified three potential sites for a hydrogen plant: one on the Dutch coast in Eemshaven and two others on the German North Sea shore. Production capacity is expected to range between 1.4 and 2.7 GW. CO2 produced in the process would likely be stored at the Equinor-led Northern Lights project off Norway, although other options including the Porthos scheme off the Dutch coast are also on the table.

Before the project can go ahead, though, the regulatory frameworks in Germany and the EU governing the conversion of gas pipelines to hydrogen and the transport of hydrogen independent from its production technology need clarification, Thyssenkrupp noted. Germany and the Netherlands also need to align grid development and transport arrangements.

The partners say the project's entire value chain could be up and running as early as 2027.