NRW makes grid expansion planning for hydrogen

The state of North Rhine-Westphalia has presented cooperative grid planning for electricity, gas, and hydrogen along with officials from the energy sector. Brussels and Berlin must now cooperate.

When NRW Economics Minister Mona Neubaur (Greens) and four energy corporations signed the agreement on “Integrated Network Planning NRW” on Monday evening, there was no space for modesty in the NRW Ministry of Economic Affairs.

A “blueprint for all of Germany,” a “pioneering role,” a “pioneering work,” and even an “act of aggression” were mentioned. Climate neutrality by 2045 is the end goal of all of this, a commitment Germany made through the Climate Protection Act.

This initiative is novel since rivals in the energy sector are collaborating to collaboratively plan the networks for electricity, gas, and hydrogen. such that, for instance, hydrogen can be transported using gas pipelines.

In order to move the economy toward climate neutrality, hydrogen will be essential. It will provide industries that cannot electrify their output but are reliant on liquid energy sources like gas or hydrogen.

A more specific demand planning for NRW is another novel aspect of the “Integrated Network Planning” project: Which routes and line capacities are required at all? The response included input from three scientific institutions.

The difficulty of grid expansion in achieving climate neutrality was more broadly hinted at than specifically measured. It was repeatedly mentioned that “several thousand kilometers of the earth” would need to be torn open and billions of dollars would need to be invested.

The NRW Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection, and Energy, as well as Open Grid Europe, Thyssengas, Amprion, and Westnetz, all support the initiative. The Institute for Electrical Systems and Networks, Digitalization and Energy Economics (IAEW) at RWTH Aachen University, Forschungszentrum Jülich, and the University of Cologne’s Institute of Energy Economics (EWI) provide the scientific knowledge.

Four members of the participating companies’ delegations, in addition to Mona Neubaur, were present when the agreement was signed. They all asked the Minister to speak with Robert Habeck, the Federal Minister of Economics, shortly about her concerns. Neubaur had earlier stated that “the current legislative framework does not allow the collaborative consideration of network planning” for this reason.

The intricate machinery of grid expansion and its laws and regulations, therefore, require some revisions from the Federal Ministry of Economics. “There are still a few hooks missing from Brussels,” that is, EU approvals, was said in Düsseldorf as well. Technically speaking, there is still much to be clarified before hydrogen may go through gas pipelines.

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