Meanwhile in Germany


In order to decarbonize its industry and speed up the energy transition, Germany plans to invest roughly EUR 3.6 billion (USD 3.75 billion) to boost worldwide collaborations in the green hydrogen sector.

The expenditure plan was made public in the 2023 draft budget that the Federal Cabinet authorized last week.

The anticipated investments will be made as part of the German government’s H2-Global project, which supports hydrogen cooperation.

The biggest economy in Europe has already established partnerships with a number of nations to guarantee the import of hydrogen; agreements for green hydrogen cooperation have already been inked with Norway, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Climate protection, the transition to a clean energy economy, and economic transformation in the framework of achieving climate targets are given high priority in the proposed budget for the upcoming year with planned spending of EUR 445 billion.

Berlin is investing in floating storage and regasification units (FSRU) in addition to green hydrogen for the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG). According to the projected budget, this will cost roughly 274 million euros in 2023.

Uber wants to focus more on electric and hydrogen fleets in Germany

The ride-sharing platform Uber drew a positive balance on the four-year anniversary of “Uber Green”. The offer has been available in Munich since 2018 and enables users to book trips in electric, hybrid, and hydrogen vehicles. Over the years, Uber has expanded its service to all 16 cities served in Germany, including Berlin, Frankfurt is Main, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, and Cologne.

According to the provider, Uber Green is particularly popular with users in Düsseldorf. The company said the demand for the environmentally friendly option in the Uber app was highest here, followed by Munich and Berlin. Overall, Uber is observing an increasing demand for “green” mobility. The number of bookings has doubled since 2019.

In addition to pure electromobility, Uber partners in Germany are also increasingly using hydrogen vehicles. The fleet partner “Safedriver Ennoo” is testing the use of vehicles with hydrogen-powered fuel cell electric technology on the Uber platform. With almost 50 vehicles in six cities, the company now has the largest hydrogen fleet in Germany in the passenger transport industry.

“The investments in our hydrogen fleet have already paid off very well for us,” says Thomas Mohnke, Managing Director of Safe driver Ennoo. “Both our drivers and passengers are enthusiastic about the cars, which combine the comfort and acceleration of an electric car with the range and refueling speed of a combustion engine. With all the interesting conversations that arise between the passengers and our drivers, we are convinced that commercial passenger transport is an important lever for the broad acceptance of sustainable mobility options. We will continue to invest and have decided to operate the country’s largest fleet of 70 hydrogen-powered vehicles on German roads by the end of the year.”

“The response to our low-emission and zero-emission offerings has been impressive,” said Uber’s Christoph Weigler. “That’s why we want to support our partner companies as best we can in the transition to sustainable fleets. By reducing the service fee for electric vehicles, we plan to invest around five million euros in sustainable mobility in Germany by 2025.”

Weigler points out the framework conditions required for this: “Together with the entire industry, we would like more support from politicians. Chauffeur-driven rental cars are required to return empty to their place of business after each trip. The resulting empty runs can hardly be reconciled with the charging times and ranges of e-cars. Further return points at the municipal level for providers of e-fleets or exceptions could be an incentive to dare to switch. Future-proof concepts and their practicable implementation are essential if the mobility transition is to succeed.”

Uber committed itself in 2021 to becoming a zero-emissions platform by 2040. Then only locally emission-free cars, micromobility or trips with public transport should be taught. For Europe, this target already applies until 2030.

How Ulm wants to play a leading role in the future topic of green hydrogen

The kick-off for the “Hy-FIVE – Model Region Green Hydrogen Baden-Württemberg” project takes place in Schwäbisch-Gmünd: Secretary of State Andre Baumann from the Ministry for the Environment, Climate Protection, and the Energy Sector symbolically presented the project consortium with the total funding amount of around 32 million euros. Ulm is also there.

“Hy-FIVE” is based in Ulm
The acronym “Hy-FIVE” stands for hydrogen and “vehicles, industry, distribution, generation”. The funding is provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the state of Baden-Württemberg. The aim of the Hy-FIVE project is to test a hydrogen economy in both rural and urban areas. The activities are concentrated on four lighthouse projects that cover the entire value chain from generation to use in industry, transport, and district solutions. This will be supplemented by an office based in Ulm, which will be responsible for central tasks in the project and, among other things, will organize information events in the urban and rural districts involved.

That’s what OB Czisch says about green hydrogen
In addition to the districts of Reutlingen, Heidenheim and Tübingen, the model region includes the Alb-Donau-Kreis, the Ostalbkreis and the cities of Schwäbisch Gmünd and Ulm. “We are very proud of the state’s award as a model region for green hydrogen in Baden-Württemberg. In Ulm and the region, we have the perfect conditions for setting up the required value chain, because we form basic research, research and development, and hydrogen production right up to its use – for example in fuel cell trucks – all the links,” says Ulm’s Lord Mayor Gunter Czisch.

The SWU is there
With the support of private investments, the funding program sets the right incentives here. With Stadtwerke Ulm/Neu-Ulm (SWU), a municipal company is also involved in the concrete construction of electrolyzers in the city area. “The SWU is leading the way as municipal utilities and relies on this future technology. The planned hydrogen filling station in the Danube valley for trucks is also important. This will create ideal conditions for our companies,” emphasizes Czisch. For him, it is important that the challenges are tackled together by the region.

The project will be funded from 2022 to 2027. The system must then be economically self-supporting. Networking with other partners and actors in the region and beyond will therefore play an important role in the long-term success of the project right from the start and is already in full swing.

Lower Saxony wants to cooperate with the Netherlands

In the future, Lower Saxony hopes to collaborate on hydrogen initiatives more closely with the Netherlands. According to the State Chancellery in Hanover, a matching statement of intent was signed on Monday by the federal state and four northeastern Dutch provinces. It is clear that the energy transition needs to be accelerated; in addition to climate change, the war in Ukraine is making it more urgent to move to renewable energy sources. Projects ought to be connected, among other reasons. This not only promotes information sharing but also lowers the cost of ‘green hydrogen’.

In the future, Lower Saxony hopes to collaborate on hydrogen initiatives more closely with the Netherlands. According to the State Chancellery in Hanover, a matching statement of intent was signed on Monday by the federal state and four northeastern Dutch provinces. It is clear that the energy transition needs to be accelerated; in addition to climate change, the war in Ukraine is making it more urgent to move to renewable energy sources. Projects ought to be connected, among other reasons. This not only promotes information sharing but also lowers the cost of ‘green hydrogen’.

Hydrogen produced in a climate-neutral manner will be crucial in Germany’s energy transformation as well. The use of “green” hydrogen is thought to be necessary to meet climate targets. Electrolysis is a process that creates hydrogen using electricity from renewable sources, which may be used, for example, to meet the energy needs of the steel industry. Currently, green power is still a rather rare and expensive energy source.

Hydrogen from methanol to power ships

The HyMethShip drive idea was created by Fraunhofer researchers, who get their hydrogen from methanol. The method should be much safer than using hydrogen directly because it does not call for massive hydrogen tanks to be on board.

Due to the dramatic growth in trade volume, shipping is one of the sources of greenhouse gas emissions that is expanding the quickest. In order to replace traditional ship engines with more ecologically friendly ones, ship manufacturers are searching. Green hydrogen is also receiving more attention as a renewable energy source. However, there is a risk associated with transporting substantial special containers that hold hydrogen under pressure at sea. Methanol-derived hydrogen may therefore be an option.

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS have created a system that utilizes hydrogen as a very safe and emission-free motor idea. Methanol is employed by the EU-funded HyMethShip project as a liquid hydrogen transporter. The idea calls for loading up at the port with methanol. The methanol is converted on board into hydrogen via a process called steam reforming for ship propulsion.

Put methanol in and burn hydrogen

The reactor is the system’s technological brain. In it, water and methanol are first combined, and the heated result is put into the preheated reactor. The methanol and water combination transforms there, producing hydrogen and CO2. Fraunhofer IKTS can carry out reactor engineering and hydrogen separation using its extensive knowledge in membrane process technology. The carbon-coated ceramic membrane was created by the Fraunhofer researchers. The tiny membrane holes allow the hydrogen molecules to pass through while keeping the bigger carbon dioxide molecules in place. More than 90% purity is attained for the hydrogen. When it is introduced into the engine, it ignites and burns like a typical combustion engine, powering the engine. Emissions that are bad for the climate don’t exist.

Two more design techniques are employed by the process idea in the project to optimize the system. On the one hand, the reactor is heated using the engine’s waste heat, greatly enhancing the system’s efficiency. The residual carbon dioxide, on the other hand, is re-liquefied and added to the empty methanol tanks downstream of the reactor. The CO 2 is pumped into tanks and may be utilized for fresh methanol synthesis after the ship has docked at the port.

The best hydrogen transporter for transportation is methanol. The methanol tanks on board are just half the size since the energy density is twice as great as that of liquefied hydrogen. It is also secure to carry. No acute environmental concern exists even if a tank leaks, according to Benjamin Jäger from Fraunhofer IKTS’s Catalysis and Material Synthesis division.

Possible motor power of up to 1 MW

Enlarging the ceramic membranes so they may be employed for the requisite driving power of ship engines was a technological problem in the development. The membrane, which was just 105 millimeters long at first, has now been scaled to 500 millimeters in length by the researchers. This indicates that an output of up to 1 MW for the motor is already possible. Drives with an output of 20 MW or more are to be realized in the medium term.

For instance, ferries that run between two ports would be the perfect use for the emission-free motor technology. Methanol would subsequently be stored in a tank station. However, the technology might also be useful for cruise ships and container ships in the future. Environmentally concerned travelers would be drawn to a green cruise with no greenhouse gas emissions and no enormous smokestacks throwing up soot from the burning of heavy oil. Applications might potentially be made in different industries. The idea of hydrogen production from methanol may also be applied in a wide range of chemical industrial settings.

Arnes Biogradlija
Creative Content Director at EnergyNews.Biz

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