Germany – Wintershall Dea is working on a major new project in Germany that will produce clean hydrogen and store carbon dioxide underground in the North Sea.
BlueHyNow, a Wintershall Dea project, will be developed in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, on the German North Sea coast. Wilhelmshaven already has a well-connected infrastructure, with two nearby gas landing points, hydrogen storage options in nearby facilities, and a direct link to Germany’s planned hydrogen network. It has a deep-water port that can accommodate large tankers. Furthermore, CO2 can be transported from Wilhelmshaven. Work on constructing a first LNG terminal in a northern German coastal town has also begun.
Wintershall Dea’s BlueHyNow project aims to produce environmentally friendly hydrogen from natural gas at the Wilhelmshaven energy hub. The project’s goal is to generate over 200,000 cubic meters of hydrogen per hour. This is equivalent to 5.6 TWh per year, or roughly three times the energy consumption of the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, in 2019. Green wind power from the North Sea will be used to power the Wilhelmshaven plant.
The hydrogen produced will be fed into the pipeline network and distributed to industrial customers, who will reduce their CO2 emissions by using the decarbonized fuel. CO2 separated during hydrogen production will be shipped by sea to offshore locations in Norway and Denmark, where it will be stored in underground reservoirs beneath the seabed. The project will also enable storage of unavoidable CO2 emissions from energy-intensive industries by establishing this CO2 storage infrastructure. If bioenergy is combined with carbon capture and storage, it could even result in negative emissions (BECCS).
Hydrogen is widely regarded as a critical component of a climate-friendly energy supply. However, without new projects like BlueHyNow, Germany will face a significant capacity gap.
According to recent projections, the country’s hydrogen requirements will increase from 55 TWh per year to between 90 and 110 TWh per year by 2030. As a result of current European initiatives such as REPowerEU and the new gas package, the projected demand could even rise higher. The current plans in the coalition agreement of the German government will add around 28 TWh per year. BlueHyNow will be able to respond flexibly to production outages and secure the supply of hydrogen if green hydrogen imports increase in the long run.
CCS is specifically mentioned as a necessary technology in studies by Germany’s ko-Institut and Agora Energiewende. It has a lot of potential. The North Sea is thought to be capable of storing 50 times the amount of CO2 emitted by the EU in 2020.
While Norway has been safely using CCS for nearly 40 years, Denmark and the Netherlands are now promoting the technology. It is technically possible to transport CO2 from Germany to these countries. Intergovernmental agreements based on the London Protocol, on the other hand, must first be established. Intensive efforts are being made in this direction.
However, off the German North Sea coast, outside Germany’s territorial waters but within its own exclusive economic zone, there are some highly promising CO2 reservoirs. The total CO2 storage potential in the German North Sea has been estimated to be around 2.9 billion tonnes, according to studies. As a result, Wintershall Dea supports modernizing the legal framework so that offshore CCS can be implemented in Germany as well.
Wintershall Dea has already identified suitable locations for hydrogen production and for establishing links with Wilhelmshaven’s port so that CO2 can be shipped. In addition, the company is working on a Greensand project in the Danish North Sea. Up to 8 million tonnes of CO2 will be stored per year in geological formations beneath the North Sea’s surface. The company is also very active in Norway, where it has filed its first application for a CO2 storage license. Wintershall Dea hopes to achieve its goal of saving 20 to 30 million tonnes per year by 2040 by implementing these projects and other measures. This is the same amount of CO2 emitted by approximately 20 million mid-range cars.
BlueHyNow is part of Wintershall Dea’s extensive portfolio of energy efficiency and climate protection projects. Hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS) play a significant role in the portfolio.