Stahlwerk Thüringen and Ferngas to connect Unterwellenborn facility to hydrogen network


Germany – Stahlwerk Thüringen and network operator Ferngas intend to connect the Unterwellenborn facility to the hydrogen network, most likely in 2027.

Both parties agreed on a memorandum of understanding, which was signed. The following specific actions must be planned out as soon as possible in order to prepare technically for the connection to the hydrogen network.

In Thuringia, a steel plant that produces “Green Steel” already uses 100% renewable electricity has long focused on decarbonizing its products. Another crucial step towards largely decarbonized steel manufacturing is the choice to acquire “green” hydrogen through the grid infrastructure in the future.

Natural gas will gradually be replaced with CO2-free hydrogen in key manufacturing processes. At first, hydrogen should make up more than half of the natural gas’s original volume. Therefore, a progressive rise in hydrogen content is required. The utilization of hydrogen is essential, much like in other energy-intensive processes that demand high energy production along with significant volumes of continuous energy. According to the prior art, only a relatively modest amount of these process stages can be electrified. This necessitates technological modifications in the respective facilities from natural gas operation to a natural gas-hydrogen mix.

Hydrogen for entire region

On July 12, 2023, Ferngas presented the current planning status for a hydrogen core network—the hydrogen motorways in Germany, if you will—along with the other German transmission system operators. Ferngas is already putting together the links to these motorways with the help of its clients at the same time. Customers and areas that are not immediately adjacent to this core network are also taken into account.

The necessary infrastructure will be built by Ferngas Netzgesellschaft mbH, a company situated in Schwaig near Nuremberg and Erfurt, to carry hydrogen to the steelworks. The conversion of an existing, roughly 70-kilometer-long natural gas pipeline from the Erfurt region to Unterwellenborn is one of the planned projects. Ferngas needs the legislative framework from the legislature in order to operate the hydrogen lines in addition to the approvals to be obtained and proof of appropriateness for H 2 operation in order to be able to convert to hydrogen.