The partners in the Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park consortium have made their final investment decision, which represents the starting point for the implementation of the innovative hydrogen project. This means that the theoretical planning phase has ended and building work can begin. The groundbreaking ceremony was held in the presence of the Minister Presidents Dr. Reiner Haseloff (Saxony-Anhalt) and Michael Kretschmer (Saxony) and the directors of the companies that make up the consortium. The construction work will take several years. This brings the production, storage, transport and use of green hydrogen in central Germany much closer. The consortium partners are playing a key part in driving the energy transition and the structural transformation of central Germany.
“It was by no means inevitable that we would reach this stage,” explained project manager Cornelia Müller-Pagel. “When we received the funding of 34 million euros in September 2021, we put a great deal of effort into getting the project off the ground, but then we encountered a number of foreseeable and unexpected obstacles. This is why I am particularly proud that we are about to start work on constructing the first and only living hydrogen lab against the background of considerable regulatory uncertainty and unclear conditions,” she continued.
The price rises in all areas of the economy in recent months have also affected the Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park. At the start of the project, the investment volume was estimated to be around 140 million euros across all the value added stages. That figure has now risen to more than 210 million euros. “The considerable price increases represented a major challenge for the project. The fact that the partners in the consortium are nevertheless prepared to pay these increased costs to turn the Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park into reality demonstrates the commitment of Terrawatt, Uniper, VNG Gasspeicher, ONTRAS, DBI and VNG to the energy transition and their conviction that green hydrogen will play a crucial role in it,” said Cornelia Müller-Pagel.
Two additional players joined the project after this milestone had been reached. From now on, Uniper and VNG Handel & Vertrieb will be responsible for constructing and operating the electrolyzer. In addition, the partners in the consortium acquired TotalEnergies Raffinerie Mitteldeutschland GmbH as the first key customer for their green hydrogen. “The industry has a very high energy consumption and is facing particularly big challenges when it comes to decarbonizing. This is why we are pleased that in the future we will be able to supply the TotalEnergies refinery in Leuna with green hydrogen from the Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park and to support the decarbonization of the refining process. It is another important milestone in the project partnerships, but also for us as a company and for our customers,” explained Cornelia Müller-Pagel.
The project team is now focused entirely on the construction process. Work on building the wind farm, with its eight wind turbines and accompanying substation, is starting immediately. This means that wind energy will be generated from the spring of 2024. Very soon the construction of the 30-MW electrolyzer by Sunfire will begin. This will take around two years to complete. In addition, the conversion of the gas pipeline will start, including the construction of a new pig trap. In 2024, the TotalEnergies refinery in Leuna will be connected to the future ONTRAS hydrogen network following the construction of the first network connection. Trial operation will begin early 2025 and the plan is for green hydrogen to be transported from the Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park starting in the third quarter of 2025 for use by TotalEnergies Raffinerie Mitteldeutschland GmbH.
Thomas Behrends, General Manager at TotalEnergies Raffinerie Mitteldeutschland, commented: “The refinery in Leuna is heavily involved in a number of projects with the aim of significantly reducing its carbon footprint by 2030. This project represents the first step. It will allow us to buy green hydrogen in large volumes in the future and to manufacture products with a small carbon footprint such as renewable fuels of non-biological origin and e-fuels. It is fully in line with the objective set by TotalEnergies of decarbonizing all the hydrogen used in its European refineries by 2030. Our goal is to replace gray hydrogen with low-carbon hydrogen, which will lead to a reduction in our carbon dioxide emissions of three million metric tons per year by 2030.”
The views of the consortium partners:
Terrawatt Planungsgesellschaft mbH – Managing Director Falk Zeuner explained: “All our efforts have paid off several times over. We now have proof that renewable energies, produced in our case by the combination of large-scale wind power and electrolysis, are able to take responsibility for the system, in other words, to support the grid and to relieve the load on it. Our project is also a good example of the familiar saying: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”! I would like to thank the government and the public bodies for their support in a wide range of areas.”
Uniper – CEO of Uniper Hydrogen Dr. Axel Wietfeld: “Today represents an important milestone for the Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park. Uniper is proud of the fact that it is playing an active role in shaping the energy transition in partnership with VNG AG, VNG Handel & Vertrieb, VNG Gasspeicher GmbH, ONTRAS and Terrawatt Planungsgesellschaft and with the scientific support of the DBI Group. The Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park is a showcase project. Green hydrogen is one of the technologies of the future that will help us to decarbonize industry. The successful combination of generating, transporting, storing, marketing and using green hydrogen as a central component of the safe, sustainable and cost-effective energy supply of the future is being explored with the goal of achieving a decarbonized hydrogen economy. Uniper’s final investment in the 30-MW electrolyzer with Sunfire as its partner will help to drive the local energy transition.”
VNG Handel & Vertrieb GmbH (VNG H&V) – Managing Director Stephan Haupt: “We are pleased to be joining the joint venture and the project consortium and to contribute our expertise and our total commitment to the project. Together with our joint venture partner Uniper, we are determined to give a further boost to the decarbonized hydrogen economy with the smart generation and sale of green hydrogen in the Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park and to provide our customers with a high-quality, reliable supply of green hydrogen in the future.”
VNG Gasspeicher GmbH – Managing Director Bernd Protze: “One requirement for the success of the energy transition is the ability to store large quantities of energy. As things currently stand, the only way of storing an appropriate amount of renewable energy is in the form of green hydrogen. We are proud to be taking the first step toward the large-scale storage of hydrogen, together with our project partners. We believe that the Bad Lauchstädt site offers considerable potential for increased storage capacity which will allow suitable storage products to be supplied for the future expansion of the market in green hydrogen.”
ONTRAS Gastransport GmbH – Managing Director Ralph Bahke said: “Converting a natural gas pipeline is the most cost-effective and quickest way of transporting hydrogen. Here in Bad Lauchstädt, we are demonstrating for the first time that this works. At the same time, we are creating a blueprint for all the accompanying processes in future conversion projects. The positive cooperation with the relevant public bodies in Saxony-Anhalt has made an important contribution in this respect.”
DBI – Gastechnologisches Institut gGmbH Freiberg – Managing Director of the DBI Group Dr. Jörg Nitzsche: “The in-depth and highly focused research work that has been taking place in recent years is now paying off. The results will be used during the development of the Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park and the generation, storage, transport and use of green hydrogen. It will give a significant boost to the establishment of the hydrogen economy. The close cooperation between industry, research institutions and public bodies is essential to the success of this project.”
VNG AG – Hans-Joachim Polk, CTO of VNG AG, explained: “The investment decision is a key milestone in this pioneering project. For me, it testifies to the excellent teamwork across the entire consortium. My thanks go to all the project partners. To ensure that the project is a lasting success, we need the right conditions. These will provide the necessary security for investments in future green hydrogen projects.”
Source: Energiepark Bad Lauchstädt