A green hydrogen generation plant described as one of the largest in Germany is open, with industrial giant Siemens saying it will produce 1,350 tons of hydrogen every year.
In a statement Wednesday, Siemens said the facility would use wind and solar power from the Wunsiedel Energy Park in Upper Franconia.
The hydrogen will be produced using an 8.75 megawatt electrolyzer. Siemens said the hydrogen would be primarily used “in the region’s industrial and commercial enterprises, but also in road transport.”
Following its commissioning, Siemens said a handover of the plant to WUN H2, its operator, had taken place. Siemens Financial Services has a 45% stake in WUN H2. Riessner Gase and Stadtwerke Wunsiedel, a utility, have stakes of 45% and 10%, respectively.
“Talks regarding the expansion of the plant’s capacity to 17.5 megawatts are already underway,” Siemens said.
Described by the International Energy Agency as a “versatile energy carrier,” hydrogen has a diverse range of applications and can be deployed in a wide range of industries.
It can be produced in a number of ways. One method includes using electrolysis, with an electric current splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen.
If the electricity used in this process comes from a renewable source such as wind or solar then some call it “green” or “renewable” hydrogen. Today, the vast majority of hydrogen generation is based on fossil fuels.
‘A game changer for Europe’
Siemens’ announcement came on the same day that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed support for hydrogen during her State of the Union address.
In remarks translated on the Commission’s website, von der Leyen said “hydrogen can be a game changer for Europe. We need to move our hydrogen economy from niche to scale.”
In her speech, von der Leyen also referred to a “2030 target to produce ten million tons of renewable hydrogen in the EU, each year.”
“To achieve this, we must create a market maker for hydrogen, in order to bridge the investment gap and connect future supply and demand,” she said.
To this end, the EU’s von der Leyen also announced the creation of a European Hydrogen Bank. It is hoped this will be able to invest 3 billion euros ($2.99 billion) to support the future market for hydrogen.
Over the past few years, a number of multinational firms have attempted to lay down a marker in the green hydrogen sector. Within Germany itself, oil and gas giant Shell last year announced that a 10 MW electrolyzer had started operations.
In July 2022, it was announced that plans to build a major hydrogen plant in the Netherlands would go ahead following a final investment decision by subsidiaries of Shell.
In a statement at the time, Shell said the Holland Hydrogen I facility would be “Europe’s largest renewable hydrogen plant” when operations start in 2025.
According to the firm, the 200 MW electrolyzer will be located in the Port of Rotterdam, Europe’s largest seaport, generating as much as 60,000 kilograms of renewable hydrogen every day.
In June of this year, another oil and gas supermajor, BP, said it had agreed to take a 40.5% equity stake in the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, a vast project planned for Australia.
BP said it would become the operator of the development, adding that it had “the potential to be one of the largest renewables and green hydrogen hubs in the world.”