OGE and RWE outline plans for hydrogen backbone in Germany


OGE and RWE have set out plans to ramp up the hydrogen economy in Germany as quickly as possible to as it looks to decarbonise and diversify its energy supply.

The pair announced plans for the jointly developed national infrastructure concept, H2ercules, which will be able to cover two thirds of the hydrogen demand from German industrial centres by 2030. It will speed up the process of building a German hydrogen industry and infrastructure, connecting electrolysers, storage and import facilities in the north of the country with industrial consumers in the west and south. There are also additional import routes under development in the south and east that will be connected by 2030, allowing H2ercules to become the backbone of a hydrogen infrastructure that links the North sea coast with southern Germany.

The project is set to require a €3.5bn investment, though considering most of H2ercules will use converted existing natural gas pipelines, it can be implemented far quicker and more cost effectively overall than if the infrastructure had to be constructed from scratch.

RWE will construct new electrolysers with a collective capacity of up to 1GW by 2030. It will also import large volumes of hydrogen and build hydrogen ready gas-fired power stations with a capacity of at least 2GW, close to the planned H2ercules route, and for its gas storage systems near the Dutch border to connect into the hydrogen pipeline. This will be key to creating flexible green backup capacities. OGE’s role, meanwhile, will be to ensure green hydrogen can reach customers as it converts existing natural gas pipelines for hydrogen transport and builds new ones. A pipeline network of around 1,500km will be created, fitting into the Germany-wide hydrogen network planning.

H2ercules will open up opportunities to connect Germany to major import routes, including through pipelines in Belgium and the Netherlands initially, ahead of Norway at a later stage and southern and eastern Europe. It could also connect through import terminals for green molecules in northern Germany in future, meaning the project could play a key role in establishing a European hydrogen market.