Eastern Germany could become hydrogen hub, EWI says


Germany – The Institute of Energy Economics at the University of Cologne (EWI) investigated how a future hydrogen network in Eastern Germany could be designed to meet demand and transit requirements until 2045.

Eastern Germany is well suited to a future hydrogen economy, with concentrated demand in industrial and urban centers, production close to the coast, and extensive import and transit pipeline capacities from and to neighboring regions. Eastern Germany could have a 54 TWh annual hydrogen deficit in 2045, depending on the development of hydrogen demand in individual sectors.

Furthermore, up to 48 TWh of transit demand may need to be transported to neighboring regions via pipelines. By 2045, extensive conversions from natural gas to hydrogen pipelines, as well as the construction of new pipelines, would be required. These are the main findings of an EWI study commissioned by GASCADE Gastransport GmbH, titled “Development of a Hydrogen Market in Eastern Germany until 2045 – An infrastructure analysis based on regional potentials and demand.”

Two scenarios

Two scenarios for the development of hydrogen demand and supply in Eastern Germany are examined by the EWI team. The “diversification” scenario assumes a greater substitution of hydrogen for fossil fuels, whereas the “electrification” scenario assumes that energy consumption is primarily electrified. The resulting hydrogen balances, in combination with analyses of potential import and export demands in Eastern Germany, provide an estimate of future pipeline-based transport demand.

In 2045, a high penetration of electricity applications shows only a 2 TWh hydrogen deficit. Both scenarios, however, show that hydrogen production is concentrated in coastal regions and that demand is primarily concentrated in industrial centers and metropolitan areas.

In addition to electricity-based hydrogen production, climate-neutral hydrogen production technologies such as natural gas reforming or methane pyrolysis with subsequent carbon dioxide capture could offer large production potential in Eastern Germany. As a result, the region could become a net exporter of hydrogen by 2030, with a production capacity of up to 366 TWh on the Eastern German coast by 2045. In comparison to the “diversification” scenario, more pipelines would need to be converted for the transmission of production quantities.

Furthermore, electricity-independent production technologies could contribute to supply security by providing guaranteed hydrogen supply capacities during peak load situations. They could also be a more cost-effective alternative to green hydrogen imports.