“Converting our energy supply to new, climate-neutral energy sources is one of the main objectives of the energy transition,” said Professor Dr Ralf P Thomas. Credit: Siemens
On Friday 9 July, Siemens held a ceremony to commemorate the start of construction at its Wunsiedel green hydrogen plant, a facility which will produce 1,350 tons of hydrogen annually from renewable energy.
The plant, which is scheduled to begin operation in the summer of 2022, aims to offset carbon dioxide production by 13,500 tons per year. With an electrical capacity of 8.75MW, the facility will be one of Germany’s largest hydrogen power plants, and will provide power to parts of Germany and Czechia.
“Converting our energy supply to new, climate-neutral energy sources is one of the main objectives of the energy transition,” said Siemens CFO Professor Dr Ralf P Thomas. “Hydrogen plays a key role in this. In this respect, Wunsiedel, with its existing distributed energy system and the use of digital technology, is a lighthouse project for a sustainable energy future.”
The construction of a facility of this size, and one that uses green hydrogen, as opposed to brown or blue hydrogen, is noteworthy as the world looks towards alternative sources of power. The news follows the announcement of development of a vast $5.4bn green hydrogen facility in Brazil, and projects such as the Ceará facility and the Wunsiedel plant could help set a precedent for industrial-scale green hydrogen power in the world.
The Wunsiedel facility is joint-owned by Siemens and German gas company Rießner Gase, each boasting a 45% share, with the remaining 10% owned by Stadtwerke Wunsiedel, a local public works body. Bringing together public and private backers could prove an important step in demonstrating the logistical viability of a project that Siemens has considerable optimism for.
“WUN H2 is a pilot project for Germany that will demonstrate innovative technology in practice and ultimately prove the feasibility of industrial production of green hydrogen,” said Dr Philipp Matthes, managing director of the Wunsiedel plant. “Our concept is scalable and can easily be transferred to other locations. If every city had its own H2 plant, the energy transition would already be much further along.”
However, questions remain as to the global impacts of the project, with Germany not among the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitters, and the Wunsidel plant set to offset just a fraction of that total. In 2016, Germany was responsible for just 2.17% of global emissions, yet even this figure reached over 775 million tons, significantly more than the emissions offset by the Wunsidel plant.