Tapping regional potential

Regional value chains, © H2Rivers/H2Rhein-Neckar
© H2Rivers/H2Rhein-Neckar

Hydrogen Regions series: HyPerformer H2Rivers and H2Rhein-Neckar

The metropolitan region of Rhine-Neckar and the central Neckar area in Germany are set to become a showcase for the future of fuel cell mobility. As part of an innovative strategy covering hydrogen production, distribution and transportation as well as various mobility applications, plans will seek to exploit synergies between H2Rivers – a HyPerformer project – and the H2Rhein-Neckar program in Baden-Württemberg.

Both projects intend to create a climate-friendly mobility system with the aim of increasing decarbonization efforts as well as curbing transport-related noise and pollution within the towns, cities, districts and communities of the relevant regions. Key elements in the implementation plan are local hydrogen manufacturing in regional proximity to hydrogen consumers and the renewables-based production of hydrogen according to CertifyHy criteria. The plan outlines the exploration of two different production pathways for hydrogen: The metropolitan region, on the one hand, is adopting centralized, industrial-scale hydrogen manufacture within the chemical industry – a scalable option that connects industry and mobility sectors. The central Neckar area, on the other hand, is looking to follow a decentralized pathway with demand-responsive localized production using renewable energies that can be replicated in other areas.

Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region

Geographically, the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region is located at the meeting point of three German states: Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate. With a population numbering 2.4 million, it’s one of Germany’s leading economic areas. Global players such as BASF, SAP, HeidelbergCement and Freudenberg along with medium-sized businesses and startups are headquartered here and account for a market capitalization of EUR 196 billion.

Rhine-Neckar is a hot spot for early-stage businesses: The conurbations of Heidelberg, Mannheim and Ludwigshafen alone are home to over a dozen business incubators. Commercial focal points are the chemical and automotive industries, mechanical and plant engineering, biotechnology, IT as well as cultural and creative sectors. The area also provides a base for leading research in medical technology, health and life sciences and for a thriving further education sector with a wide offering of courses. All these factors combine to make this location the ideal place to connect the dots between industry, academia, society and politics.
Its central European position and first-rate infrastructure mean that the region enjoys excellent international connections: from its location on the Rhine River – Europe’s most important waterway – to its rail links and digital infrastructure as well as its connection to Europe’s extensive energy networks. In 2005, a treaty signed by the states of Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate laid the political foundations for a joint regional development effort, an arrangement which is now benefiting the H2Rivers project.

An academic study carried out in 2019 was able to demonstrate that the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region has a great deal to gain from establishing hydrogen infrastructure in the mobility sector, reducing local emissions and bolstering value creation in the region.

…Read more in the latest H2-International

Authors: Dr. Doris Wittneben – Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar GmbH, Lukas Haase – Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar GmbH

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