R&D in hydrogen delivery – converting a natural gas pipeline

17 November 2020

Politics and business are increasingly turning to hydrogen as a climate-neutral energy carrier. E.ON is taking a significant step forward in putting the hydrogen vision into practice with its new research & development project ‘H2HoWi’ in Holzwickede in North Rhine-Westphalia. The first of its kind in Germany, the project sets out to convert a natural gas pipeline, which is part of the public supply system, to pure hydrogen. The project, in which the company will invest roughly € 1 million, will be backed by scientific monitoring to confirm, among other things, that hydrogen has no influence on the properties of the pipe material or the tightness of the existing infrastructure.

There is a technical standard in Germany that limits the hydrogen concentration in natural gas networks to a maximum of 10 %, but a number of trials have already explored higher admixture rates. 

With the project now launched, E.ON subsidiary Westnetz is working on establishing whether the existing infrastructure could be used for pure hydrogen. “The use and adaptation of the existing gas network for the transmission of climate-neutral gases is an important prerequisite for the success of the energy transition. What’s more, the German gas industry has the highest storage capacities in the European Union. Electricity from wind turbines and solar systems that cannot be used directly will in future be converted into hydrogen and stored in the gas network. The gas network could become the battery of the future,” commented Thomas König, E.ON’s COO responsible for the company’s network business.

“It is not technically feasible or economically viable to electrify all applications. Therefore, hydrogen will be indispensable as an energy carrier for applications where the direct use of green electricity is either not feasible or sensible for technical or commercial reasons. This is why we need to connect the different sectors of energy consumption. Given its carbon-neutral nature, pure hydrogen is a future-oriented solution, for example when it comes to supplying heat or for industrial production processes,” commented Katherina Reiche who, in addition to her role as CEO of Westenergie AG, is also chairwoman of the German government's National Hydrogen Council.

To find out if and how it could be technically possible to convert a natural gas pipeline to pure hydrogen, Westnetz will disconnect a medium-pressure gas pipeline in the town of Holzwickede in the Ruhr area from the network and then connect it to a hydrogen storage facility. Four commercial customers will be supplied from here. The hydrogen is to be used to generate the required space heating. In addition to conversion of the pipeline, this requires adjustments to the existing customer installations. For this reason, hydrogen-compatible condensing boilers from Remeha are being installed at their premises.

The entire project will be executed by Westnetz and will be managed and operated until the end of 2023. Construction work will start in November 2020.

Linkedin Linkedin   
Privacy Policy
We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.