The project outline for the “Fenne HydroHub” hydrogen infrastructure project, which STEAG designed together with the project partners Siemens AG, the Institute for Future Energy and Material Flow Systems (IZES gGmbH) and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI GmbH) and submitted to the “Living Labs for the Energy Transition” ideas competition organized by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Technology (BMWi), was selected from 90 entries and evaluated as eligible for funding. By means of the selected projects, the German Government intends to accelerate the development of hydrogen technologies and the establishment of integrated energy systems, and make them ready for the market.
The core element of the HydroHub is an electrolyzer with a capacity of 17.5 megawatts, which is to be installed at the STEAG site in Völklingen-Fenne. The green hydrogen produced there could, for example, be supplied to nearby steel companies and used there as a substitute for coke in pig iron production. It could also be fed into the regional natural gas network and supply hydrogen filling stations for fuel cell vehicles in Saarland. Supplying local public transport authorities to fuel hydrogen-powered buses would be a particularly suitable option and would also provide residents with direct added value in their day to day lives in the form of reduced exhaust emissions in the cities. The heat generated during the production of hydrogen can be fed into the Fernwärmeverbund Saar district heating network. A further option is the delayed conversion of hydrogen back into electricity by using it in highly energy-efficient combined cycle plants, for example during dark doldrums.
The project already passed the final planning stage some time ago, but the go-ahead for implementation has not yet been given. One reason for this is that the currently expected investment support from the public sector is still insufficient. Notwithstanding all the enthusiasm for the new technology, the production of the climate-friendly energy medium is not an ecological end in itself. A market will have to develop in which customers are prepared to order green hydrogen in such large quantities that companies like STEAG can engage in production with a prospect of profitability.