New national infrastructure concept to become hydrogen backbone


Germany – To accelerate the development of a German hydrogen industry and infrastructure, OGE and RWE collaborated on the “H2ercules” national infrastructure concept.

The infrastructure will link electrolyzers, as well as storage and import facilities, in Germany’s north with industrial consumers in the west and south. By 2030, additional import routes from the south and east that are currently under construction will be connected. As a result, H2ercules is on track to become the backbone of a hydrogen infrastructure that connects the North Sea coast to southern Germany. The first major corporations, such as thyssenkrupp, have expressed interest in joining such a grid.

It is estimated that about €3.5 billion in investments will be required to complete the project. However, because the majority of H2ercules can be implemented using converted existing natural gas pipelines, the proposal can be implemented much more quickly and cost-effectively than infrastructure that is built from the ground up.

Reaching customers

In the H2ercules project, roles are clearly defined. To produce green hydrogen, RWE plans to build new electrolyzers with a combined capacity of up to 1 GW by 2030. RWE also intends to import large quantities of hydrogen. RWE also plans to construct H2 ready gas-fired power plants with a capacity of at least 2 gigawatts near the planned H2ercules route, as well as connect its gas storage systems near the Dutch border to the hydrogen pipeline. Both are necessary for establishing flexible green backup capacities. By converting existing natural gas pipelines to hydrogen transport and building new pipelines, OGE will ensure that green hydrogen reaches customers. This will allow for the construction of a pipeline network of approximately 1,500 kilometers that will fit into the German hydrogen network planning. The Gas Network Development Plan (NEP Gas) coordination process ensures that the hydrogen activities of other market players are coordinated.

Hydrogen demand

H2ercules creates new opportunities for Germany to connect to major import routes – initially via pipelines in Belgium and the Netherlands, and later via Norway, as well as southern and eastern Europe, and possibly via green molecule import terminals in northern Germany. As a result, the project will aid in the development of a European hydrogen market.

Other partners from the hydrogen value chain are welcome to join the project. H2ercules will be able to cover two-thirds of the hydrogen demand from German industrial centers along the recommended route by 2030, a major step toward a large-scale hydrogen economy, thanks to this integrated approach and a growth-oriented implementation path. Smaller businesses, in addition to industrial customers, may benefit from the project.