In addition to building a low-carbon hydrogen and renewable hydrogen production facility in Norway that will export hydrogen through a pipeline to Germany, the partners want to replace coal-fired power plants in Germany with gas-fired power plants that are hydrogen-ready.
Building on the collaboration between Norway and Germany and the long-standing connection between Equinor and RWE, the two businesses signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on January 5. These are the main building pieces of the collaboration:
- Construction of new gas power plants (CCGTs), contributing to Germany’s phase-out roadmap for coal. Equinor and RWE will jointly own the CCGTs which initially will be fueled with natural gas and then gradually use hydrogen as a fuel with the ambition of fully to be run on hydrogen when volumes and technology are available.
- Building production facilities in Norway to produce low-carbon hydrogen from natural gas with CCS. More than 95 percent of the CO2 will be captured and stored safely and permanently under the seabed offshore Norway.
- Export of hydrogen by pipeline from Norway to Germany.
- Joint development of offshore wind farms that will enable the production of renewable hydrogen as a fuel for power and other industrial customers in the future.
“Through this partnership, we will improve the long-term energy security for the top industrial nation in Europe and provide a workable path to the hard-to-abate industries’ required energy transformation. The partnership might turn Norway into a significant hydrogen supplier to Germany and Europe. Anders Opedal, CEO and president of Equinor, argues that this is a rare chance to establish a hydrogen sector in Norway where hydrogen can also be utilized as a feedstock for home businesses.
“There is an urgent need for a rapid ramp-up of the hydrogen economy to make headway in the conversion from fossil fuels to hydrogen. Large amounts of blue hydrogen can serve as a foundation for the production of green hydrogen supply. With our relationship, we are advancing exactly this goal of providing the necessary amounts of hydrogen to various businesses. Additionally, our planned investments in gas-fired power plants that can burn hydrogen will provide supply security in a decarbonized energy sector, says Dr. Markus Krebber, CEO of RWE.
By 2030, Germany hopes to have completely phased out all coal-fired power facilities. There are a number of plans to replace Germany’s current coal-fired power stations with new, hydrogen-capable ones. The power plants will run on Equinor natural gas until large-scale hydrogen generation is developed. The first step in lowering carbon emissions is to replace coal, which significantly lowers CO2 emissions. The greatest natural gas provider to Europe is Norway, and Norwegian gas has the lowest carbon impact of any gas supply.
The following step in the decarbonization process is to switch out natural gas for low-carbon hydrogen that is produced in Norway and brought to Germany via a hydrogen pipeline. Low-carbon hydrogen will eventually be complemented and replaced by large-scale renewable hydrogen production from offshore wind projects in Germany and Norway.
The construction of a hydrogen pipeline from Norway to Germany is necessary for an industrial-scale and consistent supply of hydrogen to Germany and the EU. Gassco and partners are now evaluating this within the framework of the German-Norwegian feasibility study. Initially, the pipeline would transmit low-carbon hydrogen that was created by capturing more than 95% of the CO2 from natural gas using tried-and-true methods.
Additionally, Equinor and RWE will work together to construct large-scale offshore wind projects in Norway and Germany that will produce sustainable hydrogen. The delivery of fully decarbonized baseload fuel and feedstock, supplying industries and assisting intermittent renewable energy generation, would result from the addition of renewable hydrogen production, which would eventually replace low-carbon hydrogen in the pipeline.
RWE and Equinor both want to be at the forefront of the energy transition. The parties rely on cooperation with governments, local authorities, regulators, communities, business partners, suppliers, and others to create a completely decarbonized energy system. The right regulatory support mechanisms will be needed in order for the infrastructure and projects included in the Memorandum of Understanding to become economically viable.