Led by Hamburg’s Senator for Economic Affairs, Dr Melanie Leonard, a delegation from Hamburg’s energy industry travelled to North America (US, Canada) in mid-October. A total of around 20 companies along the hydrogen value chain took part in the delegation visit, including the terminal operators Mabanaft and Evos, electrolysis stack producer H-Tec, major energy consumers such as Aurubis, as well as energy and chemicals producer Sasol. EEHH Managing Director Jan Rispens also took part. The visit was part of the overseas trade concept recently adopted by the Hamburg Senate and aimed to help Hamburg’s energy companies expand and diversify their business relationships. The focus of the programme and B2B meetings was on the production of and investment in green hydrogen from wind power.
Offshore wind and hydrogen as key pillars of the US Clean Energy Strategy
Despite having the same expansion targets as Europe (30GW by 2030), the US offshore wind industry is in an earlier development phase. Three coastlines with excellent wind conditions (east coast, California, Gulf of Mexico) remain largely undeveloped. But the potential is enormous. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates the gross offshore wind energy potential to be over 4,000 GW. With the introduction of the Inflation Reductions Act, the US government aims to specifically encourage investment in renewable energies and accelerate the transformation of its domestic industry.
The huge availability of renewable energies creates excellent conditions for green hydrogen production. At the start of the delegation visit, the US President, Joe Biden, and the Department of Energy announced the selection of seven regional hydrogen hubs. Funding of USD 7 billion is being provided for their development as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and is intended to support the rapid ramp-up of the national market for affordable, clean hydrogen. The regional Hubs for Clean Hydrogen are expected to generate private investments worth over USD 40 billion and create tens of thousands of well-paid jobs. Around two thirds of the total project investment is earmarked for renewable and/or electrolysis-based production. Together, these hydrogen hubs will generate more than three million tons of clean hydrogen per year, thereby achieving almost one third of the US target for 2030. In the US too, clean hydrogen’s greatest contribution is thought to be a reduction in emissions; and this is particularly important for sectors that are difficult to decarbonise, such as heavy goods transport, as well the chemical, steel and cement industries.
With the support of AHK Washington, DC, the delegation met representatives of the Department of Commerce, the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA), the World Bank and the MACH2 Hydrogen Hub of the States of Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to share their experiences of developing the US and international hydrogen economy.
During the US part of the programme, the delegation also visited Air Products global headquarters, as well as PDC Machines and Pennstate University. Hamburg’s Senator for Economic Affairs, Dr Melanie Leonard, has a personal meeting with a member of the New Jersey Governor’s Cabinet.
Canada: a major growth market for renewable energies
Following an intensive two-day programme in the US, the Hamburg delegation travelled on to Canada, specifically to St. John’s, the capital of the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, where they were introduced to recently approved wind-to-hydrogen projects.
The Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has excellent wind conditions. Thanks to the low energy requirements of the local population and industry, the majority of its wind energy can be used to produce green hydrogen and ammonia. In summer 2023, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador named four successful bidders to participate in the development of wind-to-hydrogen projects on state-owned land (crown land).
Under the name, ‘Toqlukuti’k Wind and Hydrogen’, the German wind farm developer, ABO Wind, plans to build a 5-gigawatt onshore wind farm on an area of approx. 108,000 hectares and produce green ammonia and hydrogen close to the Come-By-Chance refinery, together with Braya Renewables Fuels. The project is divided into several phases. A 30-megawatt electrolyser is scheduled to be commissioned by 2025. This would produce enough green hydrogen to cover 13% of the refinery’s hydrogen requirements. From 2026 to 2034, the plan is to gradually increase the output of the wind power and electrolysis plants in order to prepare and scale for the global export of green ammonia.
These four wind-to-hydrogen projects in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador are at the centre of the Canadian-German Hydrogen Alliance concluded in 2022. The aim of this partnership is to boost the market ramp-up of the international hydrogen economy and create a transatlantic supply chain for hydrogen. In order for this to succeed, the Canadians are promising to rapidly approve and fund infrastructure measures for the production and export of green hydrogen and its derivates. Germany plays an important role both as an importer and consumer of green ammonia and hydrogen and boasts excellent renewables technologies (on and offshore wind, electrolysers).
Due to its limited potential for renewable energies, Germany has to import up to 70% of the hydrogen it requires from overseas. It is therefore important to identify international trade corridors at an early stage and develop these with potential importers and various partner countries. As two of Germany’s major trading partners, the US and Canada are currently gaining importance for the energy transition and trade. Close collaboration with North American partners is creating momentum for the energy transition.
“Thanks to its port and infrastructure connections, Hamburg is a vital hub for hydrogen imports, both via pipelines from neighbouring countries and by ship from outside Europe. The foundations have already been laid in the Port of Hamburg: member companies of the EEHH network Evos, Air Products and Mabanaft, are involved in the Hamburg Blue Hub project to load green hydrogen and build an import terminal for green ammonia. Hamburg is therefore becoming one of the world’s leading hydrogen locations, thereby creating security of supply and demand for both itself and the industry. Other members, such as RWE and Nordex Acciona, are now market leaders in the renewables sector in North America, where they are helping to develop the local value chain using German expertise and technology. As a regional industry network, we’ll continue to help our companies participate in transatlantic renewables cooperation,” says EEHH Managing Director, Jan Rispens.