The Havelland wants to become even greener

The Havelland wants to become even greener

Hydrogen Regions series: HyExpert Havelland

Green hydrogen is an important building block of the energy transition. With its help, regenerative energy can be stored and used as needed in a wide variety of sectors. But how will the generation, storage, distribution and use of hydrogen come together? An answer to this question is the goal of the project H2VL of the regional district (Landkreis) Havelland: Various local players along the entire hydrogen value chain are being identified, networked and supported in the implementation of their projects – from production through distribution to use. For this, Havelland is being supported by the German transport ministry, through the hydrogen and fuel cell innovation support program NIP2, with nearly 400,000 euros as one of the 15 winners of the title HyExpert Region.


In the H2VL network are represented nearly 140 stakeholders from 75 different organizations – from companies and municipalities to advocacy groups and research institutions. The environmental ministry of the district in Brandenburg is leading the project and supporting the H2 developments from the political side. Funding is being coordinated by NOW GmbH (federal hydrogen and fuel cell agency) and administered by project manager Projektträger Jülich (PtJ).

“With the hydrogen generated locally with renewable energies and then used directly in the local transportation sector, a valuable contribution to climate protection in the Havelland can be made.”


Nico Merkert, Havelland environmental office director

The project will be accompanied for one year by a consortium of hydrogen and transportation experts. The Reiner Lemoine Institut (RLI) is leading the project on the contractor side and will have scientific support from IAV Ingenieurgesellschaft Auto und Verkehr, Consulting4Drive and the Institut für Klimaschutz, Energie und Mobilität (IKEM). At the end of the project, the findings will be summarized in a regional feasibility study.

Proximity to implementation is important

One of the most important building blocks of the H2VL project is the cooperation with local players in the field of hydrogen. Specifically, cooperation has taken place in a variety of formats: In the beginning, the focus was on getting to know each other in bilateral talks and on-site meetings. Systematic data was requested from all stakeholders with a survey. In eight workshops, the participants were networked with each other and were able to learn about projects within and without the Havelland. This has led to the players now knowing each other well and, furthermore, driving forward joint projects.

The project has been developed as five packages. In addition to the project and stakeholder management described above, the entire value chain of a green hydrogen economy was considered

Hydrogen production

If the hydrogen is produced locally from renewable energies (RE) and used later on, this offers the advantage of regional value creation. It is important that citizens and communities benefit directly and indirectly from RE and H2 generation in their neighborhoods. That is why the project will focus on regionally anchored stakeholders. The Havelland has enormous potential for renewable energy generation. About 1 GW of photovoltaic and 2.5 GW of wind power would be technically possible.

Even if only a small portion of these potential areas were used, it would allow large amounts of RE to be generated and used for, among other things, hydrogen production. How much hydrogen can be produced and for what price depends on the price of electricity, the electrolyzer full load hours and the ratio of installed RE to electrolyzer capacity (see Fig. 2). Depending on the operator model, production costs between 7.80 and 9.70 euros per kilogram of hydrogen are likely for the Havelland.

“We see that in the Havelland there is great potential for generation of renewable energies and therefore also of green hydrogen. To leverage this potential, it is important that the people in the Havelland benefit from the establishment of the hydrogen economy. That is why in the project we’re putting value on regional value chains and the inclusion of municipal businesses.”

Anne Wasike-Schalling, Reiner Lemoine Institut

In addition to hydrogen production from renewable energies, the company Neue Energien Premnitz is also planning to generate H2 from waste materials. Specifically, this means that the non-recyclable waste from the company Richter Recycling are to be used for incineration with waste recovery, also called thermal recycling (see H2-international October 2021). The land for the plant has already been secured, and the procedure for approval in accordance with German emissions law (BImSchG) is underway.

Hydrogen demand

Hydrogen can be employed in many sectors, and can be used as a starting material or replace fossil energy sources. In Havelland, the transport and industrial sectors in particular were examined. For the industrial companies in Havelland, hydrogen would more often than not replace the natural gas used up to this point. For this to be economically feasible, the price corridor for green hydrogen would have to be between about 5 (natural gas parity price) and 10 euro cents per kilowatt-hour (corresponds to 1.67 to 3.33 euros per kg of hydrogen). This is not foreseen as happening within the next few years. The use of hydrogen as a chemical resource in the Havelland is not established at this time.

In the transport sector, various modes of transportation were highlighted. In local rail travel and shunting operations, the employment of hydrogen is imaginable, but no concrete demand quantities are foreseeable at present. In road traffic, the focus is primarily on heavy vehicles or those with long ranges. Because of the higher energy density of hydrogen compared to the electric battery, its advantages could prevail here.

For the conversion from diesel to hydrogen, comprehensive cost considerations over the entire life cycle (total cost of ownership) were carried out with stakeholders. These show, for example, that for the operation of a public transport bus fleet, if the green hydrogen costs between 5.90 and 7.50 euros per kilogram, cost parity with diesel vehicles can be achieved. That is a large distance from the current probable cost of hydrogen production (see above).

To nevertheless enable business models in the ramp-up phase, the German government has expanded the incentives around the Treibhausgasminderungsquote (greenhouse gas reduction rate, THG-Quote). Consequently, the putting of green fuels such as hydrogen into circulation will enable additional rewards through so-called selling of the THG-Quote from low or zero emissions product owners to companies that will not sufficiently reduce their emissions.

Storage and distribution

Hydrogen can be stored and transported in various ways. With stakeholders and in the feasibility study, various types of storage and transport were discussed. Critical for the planning of the stakeholders is also the planned starting grid Brandenburger H2-Startnetz. This will be gradually expanded. Through this, more and more different locations within the Havelland will become part of a supraregional hydrogen supply network.

Various parts of the value chain of a hydrogen economy were joined using actual players in the last work package. In order to be able to realize efficient business models, both the generation and the demand side need consideration. In two regional clusters, possible supply chains were outlined, analyzed and further developed together with stakeholders.

Cluster Östliches Havelland (eastern cluster)

In this cluster, the consortium is currently exploring along with regional energy provider GASAG whether and how the company’s planned electrolyzer in the city Ketzin can be built and operated economically and the hydrogen can be made available to the regional transport sector. As potential consumers of the hydrogen due to sufficient theoretical quantities, the consortium is of the opinion that portions of the municipal fleets in nearby Nauen would be the most suitable option at this time. There is general interest in a partial conversion to H2 drives for these fleets. The economic viability is currently being examined separately in detail.

Initial rough calculations also show that when both sides are considered together, a regional value chain from production to distribution, refueling stations and consumption could be conceivable under certain conditions, for example subsidies. However, several parameters still need to be clarified. Players in the transport logistics industry in the area Wustermark-Brieselang are also being considered in this cluster, as they could represent further anchor customers.

Cluster Westliches Havelland (western cluster)

Rathenower Wärmeversorgung, the heating provider for the city Rathenow, is working on a project for the production of climate-friendly heat. This is to occur through the company’s own renewable energy generation in combination with a power-to-heat plant. The renewable electricity will be directly converted into district heating in this way. To optimally use the fluctuations in RE generation, the installation of an electrolyzer is additionally under consideration. The intent is to use energy surpluses to produce green hydrogen. Incidentally, the waste heat from the electrolyzer can also be used in the district heating network. Wasser- und Abwasserverband Rathenow, with its fleet of sewage suction vehicles, could be a regional H2 consumer.

Furthermore, stakeholders are encouraged to continue independently networking themselves. The digital hydrogen marketplace Wasserstoffmarktplatz Berlin-Brandenburg enables the decentralized networking of all participants and also the targeted search for specific players in the value chain. Stakeholders can also network beyond the scope of the H2VL project.

Authors: Anne Wasike-Schalling, Reiner Lemoine Institut gGmbH, Berlin,, Nico Merkert, Landkreis Havelland,

Field test with 20 percent H2 appears successful

Field test with 20 percent H2 appears successful

In Erftstadt, a city near Cologne, grid energy provider GVG Rhein-Erft and distribution operator RNG are currently testing the effects of blending 20 volume percent hydrogen in the natural gas network there. The interim results of the field test running since October 2022 are thoroughly positive. All of the connected gas consuming installations, according to independent test organization TÜV Rheinland, are running 100 percent problem-free. Citizens as well as the businesses connected were able to use their devices like usual throughout the whole heating season. The consuming devices did not need to be altered in order to use the gas blend. The gas tightness of the network was unaffected.

Up to now, only a blending of 10 vol.% hydrogen has been allowed for the German gas grid. The test confirms that “both the gas network and the connected gas consuming installations can tolerate twice that amount of hydrogen blending,” as stated by Reiner Verbert, project manager at TÜV Rheinland. This test is the first to be carried out in a low calorific gas grid in Germany. The field test is to run until the end of December of this year. A total of 100 households from the city regions of Niederberg, Borr and Friesheim are taking part in it.


The area is particularly well suited for this pilot run important for the energy transition because the network of about nine kilometers (6 miles) was only just built in 2007 – so the technical state is very modern. The distribution lines and house connections are also easy to monitor. Both the network topology and device technology of the test households are therefore especially suited to provide informative results before transferring this innovative system to other areas of the country.

Author: Niels Hendrik Petersen

Electrolysis calculator online

Electrolysis calculator online

The technical university TH Köln has programmed a free online calculator intended to make the construction as well as design of electrolysis stations easier. Prof. Peter Stenzel from the Cologne Institute for Renewable Energy explained: “In one of my lectures, the question came up of how to support construction planning agencies or industrial companies in the conception of such plants. Students and staff of the institute accordingly developed the Electrolysis Calculator, which enables an initial rough design to be made based on the outputs.”

The tool shows, for example, how many full load hours a planned system would be in operation, how much hydrogen would be produced and which use cases would be possible. The basis for the calculations is the relative ratio of electricity sources for operation of the electrolyzer. In addition, it is possible to specify how large in capacity the electrolysis plant should be.


Stenzel explained further: “To make the result more visual, our tool also shows possible use cases for the transport, industry and building sectors: How many fuel cell cars or buses could run for a year on the amount of hydrogen generated? How many tonnes of crude steel could be produced with it? How many residential buildings with condensing boilers could be heated for one year with the hydrogen or with the generated waste heat?”

Electrolysis calculator online

What happened?

Dear Readers!

Behind us lies an extraordinary period with a plurality of crises: pandemic, war, climate catastrophe, energy scarcity, inflation, etc. Even if the acute phase of the pandemic is over, other crises are still ongoing and will presumably remain with us for some time to come.


Nevertheless, in the meantime, some things have settled into place. Inflation is not rising further at least, and the natural gas situation has been mastered, for the time being. Even the blackout predicted by some after the shutdown of the last three remaining nuclear power plants in Germany did not materialize. Instead, there is more renewable energy in this country than ever before – particularly in the electricity sector.

A good opportunity to take a breath and take stock of the situation: Where do we stand today? How is the energy transition progressing? What has been achieved so far in H2 and FC technology?


I have been engaged in hydrogen and fuel cells since 1997. At that time, this topic was a teeny-tiny niche. Fuel cells seemed interesting because they emit only hot air – only steam –and no harmful carbon compounds at all. There was hardly any literature on them; only a few research activities and demonstration projects. Federal support programs for them were nil.

A few car manufacturers were “already” experimenting with metal hydride storage for FC cars in the 1990s, and others with hydrogen. At the turn of the millennium, the first H2 and FC trade fairs and congresses emerged, but a portion of these disappeared again shortly after.

Optimistic developers joyfully announced back then that hydrogen-powered vehicles would be on the roads in 2004, and fuel cell-powered heaters in basements. Instead of series production, however, what followed were promises that it would finally happen in 2007, 2010, 2014 and 2017. H2 hype followed H2 hype, but of a market, there was no sign.

At times, the fuel cell had already been laid to rest – at least in the media. Several areas of application that were considered at the time lost interest. For example, the fuel cell-powered movie camera or the FC cargo bike.

New momentum first came into play in the 2010s, when hydrogen was being contemplated as a storage medium for renewable energies. Until then, it had always been said: Energy storage isn’t something we need. It was only when the idea of sector coupling emerged that it gradually became apparent that hydrogen could be a suitable medium for this purpose.

During this time, buzzwords such as power-to-gas, decarbonization and electrification emerged. The fuel cell fell little by little out of focus; however, increasingly more sights were set on hydrogen.

Nevertheless, several years passed in which the much-invoked Energiewende (energy turnaround) did not really gain ground. It took events like Fukushima, Dieselgate, debates on the health-related limits of emissions, and the founding of Fridays for Future until it became clear to political decision-makers as well that we can’t get by without hydrogen.

What then followed was the European Green Deal and numerous national hydrogen strategies in many countries around the world. The first large commercial and industrial businesses began to change their strategy and – at least partially – turned away from fossil energy structures.

It became increasingly clear that solar and wind power, – contrary to the many prior negative prognostications – together with suitable energy storage, have the potential to defossilize not only the power sector but also other energy sectors.

Most recently since the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine, it has become obvious that the times of cheap fossil energies are over, once and for all – which is positive in multiple respects. Because high prices for natural gas, oil and coal, which are likely to keep rising due to the growing cost of CO2 certificates, not only reduce energy consumption, they demand a change to more decentralization as well as more independence.

But where do we stand now?

Today, we have available to us almost too many H2 trade fairs and congresses – worldwide. We have investment commitments in the billions from major corporations. We have political strategies for establishing a Europe-wide H2 backbone in order to distribute renewable energies in the form of H2 gas across the continent.

We also have, however, millions of citizens who are very unsure and fearful of the future. Many cannot afford either heat pumps or electric cars. So their complaints are loud but, at the same time, understandable. That is why it is all the more important today to explain the energy transition, as well as H2 and FC technology, in a way that makes sense.

We are at the beginning of a gigantic transformation process that demands a lot from us all. At the same time, this process holds immense potential for development and redevelopment. That’s why it’s crucial to talk more about opportunities and less about problems.

I am absolutely certain that this process of change is possible without substantial loss of prosperity. We can show how new jobs can be created, how sustainable environmental standards can be set, how resources can be conserved, and at the same time how the standard of living can at least be maintained, if not improved– worldwide even.

A prerequisite for this, though, is that we do not leave everything up to the free market, but rather create suitable framework conditions that offer sufficient freedom to act but also planning security and, above all, are generation-fair.



Sven Geitmann

Editor of H2-international

EUR 15 billion for Uckermark

EUR 15 billion for Uckermark

PCK and Enertrag start HyPE+ project

Initial concrete plans have emerged for the future of the PCK refinery in Schwedt, eastern Germany. On May 8, 2023, Enertrag and PCK Raffinerie GmbH presented a feasibility study that throws light on what will happen at the refinery site in the run-up to 2045. According to the report, extensive hydrogen infrastructure could be built at the location which would involve an investment of EUR 15 billion.


The CEOs of both companies as well as the local Brandenburg economy minister Jörg Steinbach traveled especially to the town – a planned settlement whose appearance still bears the hallmarks of the socialist era. Together they presented their proposals for how the site could be made fit for the future while also allowing oil and gas operations to continue. The task of elaborating the plans prior to this announcement had fallen to a 15-member project team which had grappled with six different work packages over the course of eight months.

PCK chairman Ralf Schairer explained how it would be possible “to create added value in the region,” with the Schwedt refinery potentially obtaining hydrogen from the surrounding area by pipeline at a later date. However, the intention is also for significant quantities of hydrogen to be produced on site which are then either sold or processed further to make synthetic fuels or high-value chemical products. Looking ahead, more than 30,000 metric tons of hydrogen could be manufactured each year by the end of 2027.


“Here we envisage a center for green transformation.”

Gunar Hering, Enertrag chairman

To make this happen, 32 megawatts of electrolyzer capacity from Siemens Energy are to be installed initially (see H2-international, May 2023). Capacity is then expected to be increased by 2027 to between 300 and 400 megawatts. By 2030, hydrogen production could be expanded to 160,000 metric tons a year, which would equate to around 20 percent (roughly 1 gigawatt) of the electrolyzer capacity envisioned in Germany’s national hydrogen strategy. This would allow for the annual production of 2 million metric tons of aviation fuel, methanol and high-value chemicals and 1 million metric tons of biofuels in addition to providing green heating to the town of Schwedt. The level of investment funneled into the area could run to approximately EUR 15 billion.

One key issue, though, according to Schairer, is that the total amount of liquid fuels processed is likely to be reduced from 11 million to 3 million metric tons per year. At first this caused him much concern. He explained, however: “Of the 11 million tons, only 20 percent of the value is generated in Schwedt. At 3 million tons, 100 percent of the value is created here. So the euros stay in the region.”

Directing his comments to the around 1,200 PCK employees, Ralf Schairer reassured them by saying: “We will be refining crude oil for many years to come. We are talking about an adjustment taking place over two decades.”

CEO of PCK Harry Gnorski added: “We are the largest producer of hydrogen in the region, but it’s still gray.” In order for gray to become green he hopes that industrial companies will establish themselves in the area. The size of the growth potential in northeastern Germany is illustrated by the rise of Enertrag, which currently employs 900 members of staff, a figure it says is set to grow to 2,000 by 2028. Speaking via video, Michael Kellner, parliamentary state secretary to the German economy minister, emphasized the point: “PCK and Enertrag are the two most important companies in Uckermark.”

Less water needed

When asked by H2-international about the water requirement in the region, project coordinator Tobias Bischof-Niemz responded: “This will reduce significantly.” It was stated that, up until now, PCK has held water rights for 20 million metric tons a year. Around 1 million tons of water would be needed annually per gigawatt of installed electrolyzer capacity. If 5 gigawatts of capacity is installed in the area, the quantity of water called for would be 5 million tons – in other words a quarter of the amount previously required.


Following the joint press conference, the gentlemen met with Schwedt’s mayor, Annekathrin Hoppe, and local residents to discuss the feasibility study as part of the “Zukunft Jetzt!” (Future Now!) talk-show series. Teasingly, Steinbach appealed for a campaign to be launched to change PCK’s name to ECK, thus symbolizing that Schwedt is no longer primarily focused on petrochemicals, instead becoming a base for manufacturing e-fuels and e-chemicals as part of a renewables, chemicals and fuel alliance.