Electricity, steam and heat generation in the central north of the ‘Ruhrgebiet’ in Germany has a long tradition of about a century. Gelsenkirchen-Scholven is an example of the challenges the Ruhr region is facing within the energy transition. But at the same time, the site is also a model of what the transition towards a decarbonized energy future can look like.
The existing coal-fired power plant will be replaced with a modern combined heat and power plant (CHP) in order to supply industrial customers in the region with energy products but with significantly lower CO2 emissions. Motivated by increased environmental awareness and the responsibility towards following generations, industrial sites like Scholven are facing a chance to go even further in order to take charge in securing continued industrial processes and jobs with up to no emissions. We see hydrogen in particular as a strategic enabler for this. Hydrogen allows conventional technologies and processes to be decarbonized, thus creating decarbonization potential in all sectors.
Scholven is an optimal location for the realization of hydrogen-related projects:
- Two connection points to two different hydrogen pipelines within direct proximity of site
- Ability to incorporate flows of heat, steam, pressurized air, power, natural gas and water
- Existing pipeline systems with other industries
- Direct accessibility of site with both railway and highway
- Central location within the Ruhrgebiet
- Vast availability of brownfield
Apart from this Uniper will conduct a Hydrogen industrial Research & Training center (H2iRTC) providing the whole infrastructure for operating specific hydrogen applications. Key elements of enabling the Hydrogen Evolution will be developed and demonstrated in pilot plants for SME and Startup cases with leading academic and industrial external partners. Some of the topics addressed at the H2iRTC will be:
- explore and optimize how to store, transport and deliver energy from underground caverns or other storage options in the best practical, least expensive and efficient way.
- Resistance and reliability of materials under hydrogen exposure
- Safety and occupational safety
- Substitution or partial substitution of methane
The training center, as part of the H2iRTC, is to make a significant contribution to the development of skilled workers in the Rhine-Ruhr region, significantly lowering the hurdle for SME and Startups. The focus is on further training in the field of hydrogen as a central component of a future-oriented energy world. Qualified and certified further training is to be made possible in a practical manner and through close interlinking with the research center. This practical further training will qualify occupational fields that will have to deal with the topic of hydrogen in the future and secure existing jobs. New jobs will be created in the region through the development of the H2iRTC. Through various partnerships with institutions from the region, the training center will thus become a main pillar of the local training landscape.
In order to meet our ‘Making Net Zero Possible’ goals (becoming carbon neutral by 2035), whilst still securely supplying our industrial and household customers with process steam and heat, fossil fuels need to be replaced with low carbon alternatives.
In the context of the HyScholven project, the bi-fuel operation of the CHP Scholven with natural gas and hydrogen towards complete hydrogen operation is being investigated. This will be achieved mainly by substituting the turbine burners, installing a gas mixing station and converting all peripheral components. Operation of the turbines with hydrogen concentrations of up to 5 vol. % is already possible today. A reliable operation with up to 100 vol. % hydrogen is targeted for 2030.