Wintershall Dea is calling for the production of low-carbon hydrogen from Norwegian natural gas in Germany.
“The North Sea can be the energy hub of the future to help us master the balancing act between the security of supply and climate neutrality,” says Mario Mehren on the sidelines of a meeting with companies and politicians from Norway and Germany, which Wintershall Dea also attended. “Security of supply will require electrons and molecules – in addition to renewable electricity, initially natural gas and then large quantities of hydrogen – as well as the storage of CO2. We will need a wide range of low-emission technologies to achieve our climate goals.”
Norway and Germany intend to travel along and shape this path of transformation together.
Wintershall Dea is establishing value chains for CCS and low-carbon hydrogen – in Germany, Norway, Denmark and other countries on the North Sea coast. In March 2023, as part of the Greensand project, Wintershall Dea transported the first industrial CO2 from Belgium to Denmark and stored it there. In addition, the energy company is the operator of two licences for CO2 storage in Norway. Plans call for BlueHyNow, a state-of-the-art plant to produce hydrogen from Norwegian natural gas, to be established in Wilhelmshaven and to eventually produce over 200,000 cubic metres of hydrogen per hour. In January of this year, Norway and Germany confirmed their intention to jointly secure a significant supply of hydrogen from Norwegian natural gas for Germany by 2030.
When used in combination with CCS, low-carbon hydrogen produced from natural gas has a carbon footprint along the entire value chain of around 90 g CO2/kWh, according to a 2022 study by the German Gas and Water Industry Association (DVGW) and the Engler-Bunte-Institut at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (ebi). For BlueHyNow, Wintershall Dea even assumes that this figure will be closer to 80 g CO2/kWh. “This value is based on the current German electricity mix and transporting the CO2 by ship, as is planned during the initial phase,” Mehren explains. “Emissions could be further reduced because the electricity mix is expected to become greener, thanks to more efficient capture technologies, and by transporting the CO2 via pipeline.”
This makes the carbon footprint of hydrogen from natural gas much lower than those of lignite (410 g/kWh), hard coal (389 g/kWh) and natural gas (around 228 g/kWh). Depending on the means of transport the carbon footprint of green hydrogen is 10-100 g/kWh, according to the DVGW-ebi study. Producing green hydrogen from offshore wind power in Germany has the highest potential to reduce the carbon footprint.
The German National Hydrogen Council (NWR) estimates a hydrogen demand of 92-129 TWh per year in 2030 and of 964-1,364 TWh per year between 2040 and 2050. “To be able to furnish these quantities, we will need a variety of different production technologies and suppliers,” Mehren says.