Saxony-Anhalt has been a pioneer in the development of renewable energy projects: every second kilowatt hour generated in the state now comes from wind, sun or biomass. With an annual hydrogen-generation capacity of approximately six billion cubic meters – mainly still through conventional hydrocarbon processes – the region’s infrastructure provides excellent conditions for HYPOS. It includes the electricity and chemical flow grids in Leuna and Schkopau, and a large gas storage facility in Bad Lauchstädt. Researchers in Leuna are also investigating using electrolysis to split water into H2 and oxygen on an industrial scale.
As half of the energy generated by these sustainable technologies is sold outside the state as surplus, the H2 economy provides a significant boost to the region. “We have the power here, we convert it into H2, and then we can supply our chemical chain directly and no longer need to purchase petroleum and natural gas from more distant regions,” Wehrsphohn explains.
Since its inception in 2013, the HYPOS network has grown from seven to over 100 members today. It operates as a platform for the exchange of knowledge on production, transport, storage and utilization of green hydrogen. It’s still early days, but HYPOS aims to produce green H2 economically and safely by 2020, when it could be used in hydrogen fuel cell cars, domestic heating, in industrial applications and also to compensate for fluctuations in solar or wind energy generation. These and other benefits, such as ease of transportation, make it a potential game-changer in the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.