Uniper Mulls Gigawatt-Scale Offshore Wind Connection for Green Hydrogen Project

German energy company Uniper and compatriot steel manufacturer, Salzgitter AG, have concluded a cooperation agreement with the aim of Uniper supplying the SALCOS project in Salzgitter with green hydrogen at competitive conditions for the production of climate-compatible steel.

The cooperation is focused on supplying hydrogen from Wilhelmshaven where Uniper is developing two projects in parallel for green hydrogen.

Firstly, an import terminal capable of converting green ammonia back into hydrogen is planned. Secondly, Uniper envisages building a large electrolysis plant that, with a capacity of up to 1,000 MW, will produce green hydrogen.

With this in mind, the possibility of a direct connection to the offshore wind farm, to be built in the North Sea, is to be investigated, Uniper said.

Gunnar Groebler, Salzgitter AG, said: ”We are aligning Salzgitter AG to low CO2 production processes and the circular economy. The secure and economically viable sourcing of green hydrogen is a fundamental prerequisite on our journey toward SALCOS – Salzgitter Low CO2-Steelmaking. The cooperation with Uniper is another step on the way to leading this game-changing technical transformation to success, together with strong partners.”

The electrolysis plant and the entire downstream hydrogen infrastructure function similar to a shock absorber that, if strong winds blow, can store the wind energy expediently as hydrogen and make it transportable.

With the aim of supplying Salzgitter through the evolving German hydrogen pipeline network and for the development of cavern storage facilities, Uniper and Salzgitter AG will be cooperating with additional partners.

”We need ‘green electrons’ and ‘green molecules’, if we want to achieve the proclaimed climate protection objectives, while preserving our industry in Germany,” Klaus-Dieter Maubach, CEO of Uniper SE, said.

”The Wilhelmshaven site offers all the necessary preconditions for creating Germany’s first major hydrogen hub. Large-scale hydrogen production facilities are to be built here for the purpose of decarbonizing steel production in Lower Saxony. We also want to develop a solution that will enable the faster integration of the new gigawatt offshore wind farm into the German power grid.”

Back in September 2021, Uniper established a strategic partnership with Ørsted, the world’s leading offshore wind developer, to jointly develop combined offshore wind and hydrogen projects on a large scale in Germany.

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This is to be achieved in particular through a system-serving direct integration of hydrogen production from offshore wind power at Uniper’s Wilhelmshaven site in Lower Saxony, the companies said.

Uniper has also teamed up with Shell to assess the opportunity to develop potential synergies to accelerate existing green hydrogen projects in Germany, the Netherlands, and potentially other European countries.

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Earlier this year, Salzgitter AG and Ørsted signed a Memorandum of Understanding which sets out the supply of offshore wind power and the use of renewable hydrogen at Salzgitter AG, and also includes the production of low-carbon steel and its use in the components for Ørsted’s offshore wind farms.

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Photo: Ørsted; Illustration (archive)