Joint Effort to Transform the Energy Sector

Frank Zimmermann, H-Tec; Reinhard Christiansen, EdN; and Sönke Tangermann, Greenpeace Energy; © Greenpeace Energy

In 2019, Reinhard Christiansen, the chief executive of Energie des Nordens, or EdN, is continuing at the same pace at which he implemented his ideas last year. On January 24, he signed a purchase deal for another PEM electrolyzer, in addition to the 225-kilowatt unit, type ME 100/350 by H-Tec Systems, that was started up in October 2018. He is planning to have the new and larger ME 450/1400 device with a capacity of 1 megawatt installed in the German town of Haurup. Reportedly, this second plant will inject 3.75 million kilowatt-hours of hydrogen, produced from surplus wind power, into Germany’s pipeline system.

Christiansen told H2-international the “Windgas Haurup project has to be highly cost-effective. Implementation is only possible because Greenpeace Energy’s customers stated their willingness to finance it via a surcharge on their gas bills. Hydrogen production is mightily expensive at this initial stage. We’ll go ahead regardless because setting an example will help introduce the technology to the market and ensure that there will be a green heat industry. We couldn’t move forward without the money coming in from the new, comparatively high gas price. We’re happy Greenpeace chose to join our project, making the venture possible at all.”

It will be the second system to produce windgas for Greenpeace Energy, a Hamburg-based cooperative utility. The first, in Haßfurt, came online in October 2016. The business also acquired a 51 percent stake in EdN. As a result, the latter, a joint effort of 70 renewable energy companies, has been co-managed by Christiansen and Sönke Tangermann, one of Greenpeace Energy’s chief executives, since October 2018.

Regarding the 1-megawatt electrolyzer, whose construction will be supported with funds from Germany’s NEW 4.0 program, Christiansen said it would be “located in an ideal spot, in a part of the power grid where turbines generate a lot of surplus wind power, which we could feed to our electrolyzer to produce renewable hydrogen, that is, windgas. So instead of reducing wind farm output, we’ll be using every last kilowatt-hour.” Tangermann added that “to guarantee Germany’s energy market transformation will be a success and enjoy broad support from the public, it is high time we utilize all the capacity we have and don’t curtail production because electric power produced by coal plants is clogging up the grid. This is especially true for wind power here, in the north of the country.”

read more in H2-international April 2019

Three-way alliance

Besides acquiring a second electrolyzer, Christiansen inked a deal in September 2018 to have his citizen-funded wind farm in Ellhöft supply electric power to Greenpeace Energy customers. “Our business benefits everyone,” said Nils Müller, Greenpeace Energy’s other CEO. The power purchase agreement between the two companies is thought to ensure an economically viable operation of the farm when the incentives provided by the German renewable energy law have run out. The overall aim is to keep as many farms connected to the grid as possible. Christiansen, a wind power pioneer, said confidently that “many wind farm operators will follow our example.”

Soon after the deal was struck, Greenpeace Energy signed another with the parent company of H-Tec, GP Joule. In late November 2018, the two businesses agreed that GP Joule customers, who had initially been supplied by the company’s in-house Connect division, would get renewable electricity from Greenpeace starting on January 1, 2019. GP Joule’s founder, Ove Petersen, said that “we can only transform the energy market if we decide to work together to advance the technology. This means involving those consumers who enjoy the advantages of green energy solutions in their daily lives, for example, by using them to power homes and vehicles. It is where our partnership can make an invaluable contribution.”

Written by Sven Geitmann

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