H2ercules answers your questions
Do you still have questions you’d like answered about the H2ercules project, the partnership between OGE and RWE, or details on what happens next? This section offers an overview of the key information on all aspects of the project and the related themes.
Q&A on all aspects of H2ercules
H2ercules at a glance
What problem does H2ercules solve?
- The approach covering multiple value levels on a grand scale resolves the chicken-and-egg problem, since production, storage, infrastructure and customers are making the transition from regionally limited flagship projects (e.g. GET H2) to national solutions.
- Leverage effect: By defining the H2ercules corridor we are providing other parties with an interest in H2 along the corridor with a reliable outlook for connection to the supra-regional hydrogen infrastructure. That triggers a domino effect, as other hydrogen generators and consumers in the regions along the H2ercules system can connect to it.
- Green security of supply: This achieves diversification of the energy supply system while simultaneously speeding up the decarbonisation process.
Partnership between OGE and RWE
Can other companies take part in this collaborative arrangement?
- Yes – learn more here if you’re interested in participating.
- By design, the benefits of the project for every partner increase as more partners join in.
- We are already in discussions with further anchor companies that want to support the project and take part in it.
How can this collaborative arrangement be made compatible with the principle of discrimination-free network access?
- The pipelines being converted to hydrogen or being newly built as part of the H2ercules project will be made available to all market players without discrimination.
Are there plans to establish a H2ercules consortium?
- Our focus is currently on working out a specific and ambitious project and campaigning for support from policy-makers and other industry partners (including both producers and consumers).
- We want to discuss the best possible structure and further implementation with the key stakeholders.
- Collaboration on a project basis is planned, which will observe the rules of unbundling without creating a project company.
What political support do you expect? What political support do you need?
- Implementation will be feasible only with appropriate regulatory framework conditions in place.
What are subsidies needed for? To what extent? And when?
- Based on a preliminary estimate, total investments for setting up electrolysers and the pipeline infrastructure will come to about €3.5 billion, just under €2 billion of which for the pipelines and €1.5 billion for an additional 1 GW of electrolyser capacity by 2030. Costs are excluding the costs for required H2-storages.
- The specific subsidy requirement depends on many different factors. Calculating it is one of the important next steps.
- Considering the lead times for planning, approval and construction, it is necessary that the Federal Government make subsidies available before the end of this year.
- See also details under Political Success Factors.
What are the next steps?
Now we have to move from “wanting” to “doing”, and work out the plans in detail, i.e.:
- RWE: Firm up the choice of location, further planning regarding electrolysers, then feasibility study
- Refine consortium, bring additional partners on board, expand alliance.
- Initial discussions with authorities
- Establish plans for infrastructure development in detail
- Apply for grant funds
What must still be done during this year?
- Subsidy commitments should be in place and the locations be established by year-end. Depending on the scale of the subsidies, the first of the preliminary work could begin.
Hydrogen network and transport
Will the planning for construction of the hydrogen pipelines find its way into the H2network development plan?
- The hydrogen pipelines being converted and those being newly constructed as part of the H2ercules project will become part of the nationwide hydrogen network plans in Germany. As part of the gas Network Development Plan (“NEP”) process, this will ensure compatibility with the H2 activities of the other market players and their H2 projects.
How many kilometres of new pipeline will have to be built, and how much can be obtained by reassigning natural gas pipelines?
- Most of the pipeline system is based on existing pipelines used for transporting natural gas.
- That means about two-thirds of the H2ercules pipeline system can be provided via the conversion process. Only about one-third will have to be built from scratch. (Conversion: 1,000 km, new construction: 500 km).
- For important connections, if no sufficiently powerful pipelines are available in the short to medium term for conversion to hydrogen, we are planning to construct new pipelines at those locations to accelerate the ramp-up of the hydrogen economy by ensuring key connections are in place.
Will the pipelines also transport grey or blue hydrogen? Will they carry pure hydrogen?
- We transport 100% hydrogen.
- There are currently no plans to generate blue hydrogen in Germany. The generation by RWE on Germany’s North Sea coast involves only green hydrogen. In line with many third-party studies, RWE firmly believes that green hydrogen alone will prevail in the medium term.
- Just as there is only one electricity grid for conventionally generated and green electricity, there will also be only a single hydrogen network.
- For the ramp-up in particular, the national H2strategy also focuses on blue in addition to green hydrogen.
Storage systems and capacity
What storage capacities are planned in connection with the project?
- Immediately adjacent to the H2ercules project are a series of cavern storages capable of being connected to the network and having a combined energy storage capacity of about 24 TWh.
- In particular, the RWE storage in Gronau-Epe is connected to the network via the GET H2 project. RWE plans to have a first H2 storage commercially in operation in 2027.
Do hydrogen pipelines differ from natural gas pipelines?
- The steels used in natural gas lines are suitable in principle for the transport of hydrogen. Depending on their construction, it may be necessary to replace valves or other fittings.
Are the pipelines safe?
- Using long-distance pipelines to transport hydrogen is an established technology. Germany and many other countries have had private hydrogen networks that have operated safely for decades. Thanks to its lengthy experience in the transportation of natural gas, OGE has the necessary know-how to ensure the hydrogen infrastructure is operated safely.
Which locations does RWE have in mind for electrolysers? What are the criteria RWE applies in making its selection?
- The ability to connect swiftly to the H2 pipeline network and the connection to the electricity grid are important factors when choosing a location, and we also need the support of the state governments with approval planning.
- Focus on grid-serving use of the electrolysis capacities, therefore grid-serving site selection with sufficient transmission and line capacities at the grid connection points.
When will the electrolysers go onto the grid?
- Target: Start of operation in the second half of the 2020s.
- Depending on lead times, e.g. for approval processes; political acceleration measures are important here, e.g. no need for urban development plan procedures in outdoor areas, or the possibility of setting them up in commercial rather than industrial zones.
The hydrogen is also meant to be used for reconversion into electricity – where will the power stations for this purpose be established? Will these be greenfield projects?
- RWE is examining options mainly in existing locations. That will include both technical and approval-based criteria, likewise the connection to the electricity and gas/H2 grid infrastructure in accordance with the grid development plans.
When do you aim to convert the existing plants to hydrogen?
- The exact timeframe depends mainly on the reliable availability of hydrogen at the locations in question.
- And also on the H2 readiness of the plant and/or the possibility of directly converting H2 into electricity.
If we haven’t answered your question on this page, our Project Contacts will be happy to hear from you!