Hansewerk: Focus on green hydrogen


North German utility provider HanseWerk seeks to become carbon-neutral

The Hansewerk Group situated in the metropolitan region is one of the largest utility providers in Northern Germany - and has set itself the goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2030. At the same time, it also wants to support its customers in generating fewer emissions. For this, the company also relies on green hydrogen.

The challenge

Through various initiatives, the group aims to gradually reduce emissions from the current level of around 550,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually over the next ten years. To achieve this, the testing of hydrogen-powered vehicles is on the list, as are special incentives for CO2-free business trips. But also large-scale projects are being implemented: for example, the subsidiary HanseWerk Natur has already operated a converted combined heat and power plant in Hamburg-Othmarschen with up to 100 percent green hydrogen for several weeks in 2020. Since 2021, HanseWerk has been strengthening its long-term strategic positioning through its participation in the hydrogen specialist Hypion. In addition, it is a founding member of the " Norddeutsches Reallabor" (North German Regulatory Sandbox) initiative.

The solution

In November 2020, for the first time ever, a combined heat and power plant (CHP) in Northern Germany in the one megawatt power class was operated with up to 100 per cent hydrogen (H2). The CHP is part of a heating grid in Bahrenfeld, where HanseWerk Natur supplies 30 residential buildings, a sports centre, a daycare centre for children and the Othmarschen Park leisure centre with local heat. The project is embedded in HanseWerk's comprehensive hydrogen strategy and was the start of a multi-part test series.

The objective is to generate climate-friendly electricity and heat with green hydrogen produced from surplus wind energy. During the test, the CHP ran with a variety of mixing ratios of natural gas and H2, but operation with pure hydrogen was also successful - while complying with the highest safety requirements. Since the costs are currently still too high for economic plant operation, the green hydrogen for the test series was provided in bundles of cylinders. However, with the expansion of the infrastructure for green hydrogen in the north, the conditions will improve significantly in the medium term. Another advantage: existing plants with gas engine technology can be converted without much effort.

At the same time, HanseWerk is also involved in the cross-state initiative Norddeutsches Reallabor. It has set itself the goal of holistically transforming the energy system, thus contributing to rapid decarbonisation across all sectors. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is funding the Norddeutsches Reallabor with more than 52 million euros over a period of five years and assumes that around 500,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions can be saved per year.

Great potential

With its holistic hydrogen strategy, the company has set its course for a sustainable future. Thanks to the test, HanseWerk has gained important knowledge for the future operation of the more than 200 CHP engines in Northern Germany and created the technical prerequisites to be able to operate a CHP with hydrogen or a combination of hydrogen and natural gas - putting it on the path to a greener, secure and flexible energy supply in Hamburg.

As of September 2021

28. September 2021


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