The energy system of the future is being developed in the town of Arnsberg in North Rhine-Westphalia. Westenergie has teamed up with partners from business, science and politics to launch the Sauerland model region for climate protection. The common goal is to use modern hydrogen technology to make Arnsberg climate-neutral. Over the coming years, industry, small and medium-sized enterprises and the mobility sector will start using hydrogen. The centrepiece of the model region is an eleven-kilometre natural gas pipeline that will be converted to pure hydrogen and will also serve as an energy storage system. Today, Armin Laschet, Prime Minister of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Christoph Dammermann, State Secretary of the Ministry of Economics of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, Leonhard Birnbaum, CEO of E.ON SE, Katherina Reiche, CEO of Westenergie AG, as well as representatives of the regional economy and politics gave the starting signal for the Sauerland model region.
In his video message, NRW Premier Armin Laschet said: “We need hydrogen for the transition to a climate-neutral global economy. The industrial state of North Rhine-Westphalia is right at the forefront. We know that this is the only way we can achieve our ambitious climate goals and the only way we can maintain the competitiveness of our industry. With the Sauerland climate pro-tection model region project, the development of the hydrogen economy is now also starting in the Sauerland. This is good news and an important signal for the business location and for the Sauerland as a whole, a region that is home to many 'hidden champions', family-run companies and world market leaders.”
In his video message, Christoph Dammermann, the State Secretary for Economic Affairs, said: “Hydrogen is one of the central elements for achieving the climate protection goals by 2045. Numerous highly committed and innovative companies like those here in the Sauerland are already working on solutions for a future hydrogen economy. In this way we can succeed in developing North Rhine-Westphalia into a leading hydrogen region in Europe.”
“The energy transition and genuine climate protection can only be effective and sustainable if politics, business, science and society act in unison. The Sauerland model region for climate protection will prove that the tightened climate protection goals are indeed achievable. Here in Arnsberg we will show that progress in climate protection can be achieved where practical steps are implemented,” Leonhard Birnbaum emphasised.
“Here in the Sauerland we will demonstrate that hydrogen can become the centrepiece of a region's energy system and ensure climate neutrality and security of supply at local level. We will only succeed in ramping up the hydrogen economy if we cooperate with partners along the entire value chain and use the existing gas infrastructure. Here in Arnsberg, the conditions for a model region are ideal because we have a suitable natural gas pipeline that will become the main artery of the project," said Katherina Reiche.
During the kick-off event, which was also streamed online, the members of the project advisory board signed a cooperation agreement. Together, the partners will apply for funding for the various parts of the technologically innovative Sauerland model region project which is scheduled to commence in mid-2022.
Arnsberg will be the starting point of the climate protection model region. The project encompasses all elements of modern hydrogen technologies that can be used directly together with existing natural gas pipelines, including local distribution infrastructure, energy storage, hydrogen production, hydrogen mobility, process gases for local industry, heat for private homes and the link to a large-diameter hydrogen transmission pipeline running to the neighboring Ruhr area. The first part of the Sauerland model region for climate protection will thus cover the entire value chain from hydrogen production to transmission and distribution as well as consumption. Planning for the expansion of the model region to include other towns and municipalities is already underway.
The model project will be implemented in several stages. First, Westnetz, the distribution network operator of Westenergie, will convert the eleven-kilometre high-pressure gas pipeline between Arnsberg and Eisborn to hydrogen. The pipeline has a storage capacity of about 150 megawatt hours and is part of a former supra-regional transmission network. Its storage volume is sufficient to supply the equivalent of 1,000 modern single-family homes with sustainable energy on a cold winter day. An expert report by TÜV Nord has already confirmed that it is possible in principle to convert the pipeline to pure hydrogen.
Less than one kilometre from the eastern end of the pipeline is the site of the 110-kilovolt substation "Niedereimer", which will be used for construction of a pyrolysis plant. The hydrogen produced here from green methane as well as waste water and various methane-containing waste products will be transferred into the storage pipeline for distribution to customers in line with their demand. It will be categorised as turquoise hydrogen, as the conversion process produces carbon. This solid carbon will be made available to industrial companies for further use.
Hydrogen will play a key role in the decarbonisation of industrial processes in the Sauerland model region. Potential customers are small and medium-sized enterprises from Arnsberg, waste disposal vehicle and local public transport operators as well as private households in a residential area close to the hydrogen pipeline where the hydrogen will be used for space heating.
There is already strong demand from energy producers in the Sauerland region to connect new wind turbines to the electricity distribution grid. At the same time, the electricity and gas grids in many towns and communities are well interconnected. The predicted growth in wind energy will therefore be the basis for further interconnection points for electricity and gas in the Sauerland. There are also plans to build another biomass plant. The project partners agree that with appropriate funding, the Sauerland model region for climate protection could grow very quickly.
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