The WASh2Emden Project

The Port of Emden, aerial view.
The Port of Emden, © Seaport Emden.

The Port of Emden located close to the German / Dutch border, recently announced plans to study the technical and economic feasibility of converting excess wind energy into hydrogen.

Over the next several years, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will continue to place pressure on the marine industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through standards laid out in Annex VI of the Marine Pollution regulations. Based on these additional demands, ports throughout the world are starting to look for creative ways of curtailing emissions. Ports in Northern Germany, including the port of Emden nestled along the Wadden Sea, find themselves in a unique position. These ports are located in close proximity to sources of clean renewable energy from wind turbines, but unable to fully utilize these sources of energy due to network bottlenecks in the electrical power grid. To address this disparity, 5 major maritime and energy partners in the port of Emden launched the WASh2Emden project. The goal of this project is to study innovative ways to better utilize renewable energy in port operations through power-to-gas conversion technology. According to a project summary titled Innovative and Environmentally friendly Hydrogen Applications in Seaport Emden, the aim of the project is to conduct a feasibility study over the next 18 months to determine if it is technically and economically feasible to convert excess wind energy to hydrogen, to support port operations in Emden.

The Port of Emden

As the third largest North German sea port, the port of Emden consists of two different industrial complexes, including the outer port with direct access to the North Sea, and the inner port which provides service to inland German trade. Niedersachen Ports (NPort), which owns and operates the port in Emden as well as a number of other maritime complexes in the coastal region of Lower Saxony, is the lead organizer for the WASh2Emden project. According to a summary provided by NPort, Emden is “one of Europe’s most significant RoRo ports” and serves as the base port for the Volkswagen Group. “RoRo” is an acronym for a roll-on/roll-off vessel which is designed to carry wheeled cargo such as cars and trucks. In addition to bulk goods like timber and liquid chalk, the port of Emden also serves as a major transportation hub for offshore wind turbine components. Like most major ports across the world, a number of energy intensive operations occur within the port complex, such as cargo handling, shore power delivery for moored vessels, and fuel bunkering operations. To provide context, the port of Emden boasts an impressive maximum cargo handling capacity of up to 6.2 million metric tons annually. Unlike other major ports which depend on utility power from nearby cities, Niedersachsen Ports owns and operates its own electric utility company within the Emden Port complex, allowing it unique autonomy in exploring innovative renewable energy solutions.

read more in H2-international July 2019

Author: Joseph DiRenzo

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