Wintershall Dea calls for technology-neutral approach to German hydrogen
Wintershall Dea boss Mario Mehren has urged the German government to pursue a "technology-open approach" to hydrogen development, rather than favouring only green hydrogen.
Germany is poised to become one of the world's biggest hydrogen markets under a strategy unveiled by the government last year. But that same strategy heavily prioritises the production of green hydrogen, which is derived from water via electrolysis, while hydrogen produced from natural gas in a low-carbon way has received much less attention. Green hydrogen is costlier than gas-based hydrogen,
"We have a chicken and egg problem here: There is no market without hydrogen production, and the industry won't switch to new technologies if there aren't sufficient volumes," Mehren said. "Establishing a hydrogen market is an enormous project. The energy sector and industry face a transformation that will require huge investments."
To ensure success, the CEO said, Germany must adopt "a technology-open approach that includes all forms of climate-friendly hydrogen production. As long as green hydrogen is not available in sufficient volumes and at attractive prices, we also need hydrogen from natural gas in order to establish the market quickly. It's my conviction that green hydrogen will benefit from a mature market in the long term."
Much of the interest in low-carbon, gas-based hydrogen revolves around blue hydrogen, which is produced from methane via steam reforming. To make it clean, the resulting CO2 emissions must be stored. However, Wintershall Dea has been researching turquoise hydrogen for several years, which is produced using methane pyrolysis, which creates solid carbon as a by-product. Solid carbon can be stored more easily than the gaseous form, and it can also be used as a raw material in various industries.
Wintershall Dea in partnership with VNG plans to build a plant for producing turquoise hydrogen, using a method developed by UK start-up HiiROC, which it invested in back in March.
Mehren also urged Germany to embrace carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology used for making blue hydrogen clean.
"We in Germany must not simply spurn the possibilities CCS offers. Countries like Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands are already ahead in the field of CCS and have created the technical and statutory conditions for it," he said. "We should start an open, constructive and transparent dialogue on CCS in Germany."
Wintershall Dea is involved in the Greensand CCS project in the Danish North Sea. The project, which will store CO2 in the Nini West offshore reservoir, is due to start operations in 2025.