RWE Zeroing in on Green Hydrogen Production Plans

By Maddy McCarty, Digital Editor

Germany’s RWE, one of Europe’s largest electricity and gas suppliers, signed a contract with professional services firm Jacobs to study the production and supply of green hydrogen at the Pembroke Power Station in Wales.

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The announcement of the contract comes around the same time RWE CEO Markus Krebber told CNBC that “in the end, all hydrogen needs to be green.” He said hydrogen will be needed for parts of the economy that cannot be electrified, like aviation, heavy-duty trucks, steel and chemicals.

Krebber stressed the need for green hydrogen, since it is fully decarbonized. Green hydrogen production can use electrolysis, which utilizes a low or no-carbon source like solar energy.

Other colors of hydrogen have production methods that utilize fossil fuels, like natural gas, though some colors minimize their carbon emissions. For instance, blue hydrogen uses natural gas for production but captures and sequesters the carbon dioxide emissions.

“Of course, there is not enough green hydrogen available in the short term, so you need to allow them to run it first on natural gas then, maybe, on all other colors [of] hydrogen … especially blue,” Krebber said to CNBC. “But the moment green hydrogen is available, to the extent needed, they should switch to green hydrogen.”

RWE is planning its role in the production and supply of green hydrogen through its contract with Jacobs. The study, which will examine the feasibility of initially installing a 100-megawatt (MW) electrolyzer to produce green hydrogen from local and grid connected renewable energy, has an expected completion date of March 2022.

“This feasibility contract is a major step forward in delivering a green hydrogen project at Pembroke to supply hydrogen to industrial off-takers in South Wales,” said Sopna Sury, COO Hydrogen RWE Generation. “Pembroke is the ideal location for RWE‘s Net Zero Centre: with floating offshore wind accessibility, land for development of large-scale electrolysers, electricity and gas grid connections and one of Europe‘s most modern and efficient gas fired power stations.”

The project could grow to several gigawatts, linked to floating offshore wind in the Celtic Sea, and would become one of the United Kingdom’s largest green hydrogen plants in development, RWE said.

“The project offers some excellent potential synergies regarding the decarbonization of transport including buses, and fleet vehicles,” said Phil Baker, Cabinet Member for Infrastructure at Pembrokeshire Council. “Pembrokeshire County Council is pleased to support RWE’s green hydrogen project.”

The knowledge gained from the study could help the RWE project apply for the UK Government’s Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, RWE said.

The study is partially funded by South Wales Industrial Cluster, a consortium of Wales’ major industry, energy, infrastructure and other organizations of which RWE is a member. The project is the first to come out of RWE’s Pembroke Net Zero Centre (PNZC), that was launched earlier this year, RWE said.

RWE is committed to investing £15 billion in the UK in green energy projects by 2030. 

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