Equinor and RWE collaborate for large-scale clean hydrogen

Article by Amanda Jasi

Equinor and RWE's strategic partnership will see them collaborate towards green-hydrogen fuelled power generation

ENERGY companies Equinor and RWE have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) agreeing to jointly develop large-scale value chains for low-carbon hydrogen. The news comes at the same time as Norway and Germany announce a decarbonisation collaboration across industry for the two countries.

Cooperation between Equinor and RWE will include construction of new, jointly-owned combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) power plants that will contribute to Germany’s ambition to phase out coal by 2030. The partners plan to build 3 GW of hydrogen-ready CCGT capacity in Germany by 2030 that will initially be powered by natural gas and gradually shift to hydrogen once the required volumes and technology are available.

In line with German specifications, the companies say the plants will be able to reach 50vol% hydrogen combustion at the time of commissioning, pursuing 100% hydrogen combustion capability by the mid-2030s. Norwegian Equinor will supply the natural gas. Equinor notes that Norway is Europe’s largest supplier of natural gas and Norwegian gas comes with the lowest carbon footprint compared to other gas supply.

The partners will also build production facilities in Norway to produce low-carbon hydrogen using natural gas and CCS. More than 95% of the CO2 generated will be captured and stored safely and permanently under the seabed, off the coast of Norway.

Equinor aims to invest in clean hydrogen production in Europe, initially targeting 2 GW of blue hydrogen capacity in Norway by 2030, increasing up to 10 GW by 2038. These facilities will supply hydrogen to Germany via a pipeline that is currently being assessed by Equinor and other partners. The companies’ investments are contingent on the pipeline and German hydrogen downstream infrastructure. Once it is in place, German-headquartered RWE will purchase hydrogen to use at the CCGT plants.

Green hydrogen production will gradually complement and later replace blue hydrogen. Equinor and RWE will explore joint investment in offshore wind energy as well as green hydrogen generation capacity. The companies are both already involved in developing AquaSector, a North Sea project aimed at creating a 300 MW offshore wind farm connected to offshore electrolysers to produce green hydrogen. Renewable hydrogen ould power the plants, and also be supplied to other industrial customers in future.

Markus Krebber, CEO of RWE, highlighted the urgent need to rapidly ramp up the hydrogen economy, starting with blue hydrogen before shifting to green hydrogen.

“This is exactly what we are driving forward with our partnership – providing the industries with relevant quantities of hydrogen. In addition, our planned investments into hydrogen-ready gas-fired power plants will ensure security of supply in a decarbonised power sector.”

Andres Opedal, CEO and president of Equinor, expects the collaboration will offer energy security as well as a viable route for transitioning hard-to-abate industries.

“The collaboration has the potential to develop Norway into a key supplier of hydrogen to Germany and Europe. This is a unique opportunity to build a hydrogen industry in Norway where hydrogen also can be used as feedstock to domestic industries,” Opedal said.

Germany and Norway collaborate to decarbonise the economy

On the same day that RWE and Equinor announced their MoU, Germany and Norway announced a joint declaration for a strategic partnership in climate, renewable energy, and green industry as they seek to continue decarbonising the economy.

The countries also reaffirmed the joint intention to ensure large-scale hydrogen supply by 2030 and to establish the necessary infrastructure between them to allow Germany to import green hydrogen from Norway.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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