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Green hydrogen plant to rise at Port of Hamburg

Hamburg port

Vattenfall, Shell, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) and Hamburg’s municipal heat supplier Hamburg Wärme are planning to build one of the world’s largest electrolysers in the Port of Hamburg. The new electrolyser is to have a capacity of 100 megawatts (MW) and will be built on the site of the former Moorburg coal-fired power plant, Germany’s most prominent hard coal power plant to be decommissioned as part of the country’s coal exit. The four companies have now signed a Letter of Intent to this end.

In addition to the construction of a scalable electrolyser with an initial output of 100 MW, the further development of the site into a so-called “Green Energy Hub” is being planned. This includes the exploration of the extent to which the existing infrastructure of the Moorburg location can be used for the production of energy from renewable sources. In this context, concepts for the necessary logistics chains and storage options for hydrogen will also be considered. Subject to final investment decision and according to the current state of planning, once the site has been cleared, the production of green hydrogen is anticipated in the course of 2025 – making the electrolyser one of the largest plants in Europe.

For many years, Moorburg was the site of a gas-fired power plant operated by Hamburgische Electricitäts-Werke, and Vattenfall had been operating a coal-fired power plant here since 2015. Its commercial operation was terminated after the power plant won a bid in the auction for the nationwide coal phase-out in December 2020. A decision by the transmission system operator on the system relevance of the plant is expected in March 2021. The City of Hamburg and Vattenfall are striving to clear partial areas of the site as soon as possible for the project to produce green hydrogen and the development of a Green Energy Hub.

The partners intend to apply for funding under the EU program “Important Projects of Common European Interest” (IPCEI). This should take place in the first quarter of 2021 with the submission of a first outline of the project. The four partner companies view the energy location as having ideal conditions for further use. It is connected to both the national 380,000 volt transmission network and the 110,000 volt network of the City of Hamburg. In addition, overseas ships can call at the location directly and use the quay and port facilities as an import terminal. The municipal gas network company also intends to expand a hydrogen network in the port within 10 years and is already working on the necessary distribution infrastructure. Numerous potential customers for green hydrogen are located near the site, thus enabling the project to cover the entire hydrogen value chain — from generation to storage, transport and utilization in various sectors. With these prerequisites, the Moorburg location is optimal for the German federal state of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and Northern Germany and can become a potential starting point for the development of a hydrogen economy.