BP and Uniper aim to harness “green hydrogen“ to produce fuels
Cooperation agreement provides for examining technical and economic feasibility of using power-to-gas technology at Lingen refinery
Uniper and BP plan jointly to examine and develop possibilities for using power-to-gas technology in the refining process. The two companies have signed a cooperation agreement for this purpose. They plan to examine the technical and economic feasibility of a power-to-gas plant at BP’s Lingen refinery and to push for a necessary modification of the legislative framework.
Power-to-gas technology utilizing renewable electricity enables to break down water into hydrogen and oxygen by means of electrolysis. The renewable hydrogen thus produced can be used in a variety of ways. At two sites, for example – in Falkenhagen, in the state of Brandenburg, and in Hamburg – Uniper already operates two such plants in which various electrolysis processes are used. The hydrogen produced is fed into the natural gas network at each site.
Power-to-gas technology is also suitable for producing, from green electricity, the hydrogen needed for production processes in a refinery. So far, this hydrogen – one of the uses of which in the refinery is for the desulphurization of diesel fuel – has been produced from fossil sources. The use of power-to-gas in a refinery supports no fewer than four of the guiding principles in Germany’s energy turnaround:
- Energy efficiency: the renewable energies are integrated in industrial production processes, eliminating efficiency losses which otherwise occur in any reconversion to electricity using hydrogen.
- Lower emissions: with the aid of power-to-gas, over 90 percent of greenhouse gases (GHGs) arising through conventional methods of producing hydrogen in the refinery can be avoided.
- Linking sectors: a bridge is built from the electricity market to the traffic sector by producing ecological fuels with the inclusion of hydrogen from renewable energy sources.
- Storing electricity: power-to-gas in refineries is an innovative step towards large-scale electricity storage.
The fact that power-to-gas technology is seen by politicians as an important component in the energy turnaround is shown by the explicit mention it receives in the Green Paper on energy efficiency recently published by the German Ministry of Economics on which a consultation process has begun, set to last until 31 October 2016.
Despite the ecological benefits, such a use of power-to-gas technology has not yet been adequately recognized in the legislative framework as making an effective contribution to environmental and climate protection – although this is about counting the reduction in GHGs thus achieved towards the biofuels quota. As a result of the use of power-to-gas technology in refining processes, the share of renewable energies going into the production of gasoline and diesel will be increased. The ecological benefit associated with this should, therefore, be counted towards the biofuels quota.
This would also have further benefits: in comparison to any increase of bio-components in fuels, any competition with the production of food and animal feed will be avoided. Also, for consumers, no modifications will be necessary in the fuel infrastructure or in vehicle engines.
“We already have some years of experience with this innovative, flexible power-to-gas technology,” says Eckhardt Rümmler, Chief Operating Officer at Uniper, whose responsibilities include innovation. “It can not only make an important contribution to integrating innovative energies into the electricity supply system. Hydrogen produced from regenerative energy can also, for example, replace conventional hydrogen in industrial processes such as fuels production at BP – and thus help to reduce greenhouse gases.”
“We want to develop a power-to-gas project at our Lingen site,” explains Peter Brömse, Managing Director of BP Lingen and of the Refinery Site Manager. “But for this the legislative framework has to be created as soon as possible for an economic use of regeneratively produced hydrogen in refinery processes. By successfully putting the technology into practice we would be making a significant contribution to the success of the energy turnaround in the industrial sector.”
Uniper is an international energy company. It employs around 13,000 people and has activities in Europe, Russia and numerous other markets worldwide. The company operates power plants in Europe and Russia, with total installed capacity of around 40 gigawatts, and with its trading activities it creates links between the world’s energy markets. Uniper also maintains gas storage facilities in Germany, Austria and the UK which help to create a flexible balance between supply and demand in the gas supply system. The company also develops energy storage solutions to support renewable energies. In Falkenhagen for example, in the German state of Brandenburg, Uniper operates the first demonstration plant in the world for the storage of wind power in the natural gas network. Uniper is currently collaborating with project partners to test an alternative electrolysis process in the WindGas pilot plant in Reitbrook, Hamburg.
About BP Europa SE
With around 10,000 employees and an annual turnover of more than 52 billion euros (as at 2015), BP Europa comprises BP's business in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland. As the operator of the second- largest refinery network in Germany, BP holds a key position in the country’s domestic energy and fuels supply system. The company also produces basic materials for the chemical industry which are needed to produce many products used in daily life. With its network of around 2,500 retail stations under the Aral brand, BP is market leader in Germany. Its Castrol brand also makes the company one of the leading suppliers in the lubricants business. Based in Hamburg, market leader Air BP supplies more than 50 airports in Germany with aviation fuel.
BP has around 5,400 employees in Germany. BP Europa is part of the BP Group, which has activities in over 70 countries and is one of the largest and most important energy companies in the world.
This press release may contain forward-looking statements based on current assumptions and forecasts made by the Uniper SE Management and other information currently available to Uniper. Various known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors could lead to material differences between the actual future results, financial situation, development or performance of the company and the estimates given here. Uniper SE does not intend, and does not assume any liability whatsoever, to update these forward-looking statements or to adjust them to future events or developments.