Hydrogen study for maritime industry presented

German Maritime Centre presents overview on the current state of hydrogen technologies.
13 October 2021

Today, the German Maritime Centre presented the study “The role of the maritime industry in establishing a German hydrogen economy”. The study, conducted by the Institute of Shipping Economics and Logistics (ISL), estimates the demand for hydrogen and power-to-X (PtX) energy sources in the German maritime sector up to the year 2050– from production to storage and transport to the consumer. It offers a broad overview on the current status of various hydrogen technologies and looks at all maritime sub-sectors.

Among other things, it analyses various international hydrogen strategies, the German federal government’s National Hydrogen Strategy and the strategies of the northern German states and the European Union. The study considers the conditions for and development status of hydrogen and PtX technologies and holistically presents the requirements, capacities and key figures for the use of the products with their process chains in various scenarios as well as evaluating their level of efficiency. Use cases and research are divided into the areas of production, transport, handling, storage and the use of energy sources. The focus here is on the aspects of “Maritime industry as a consumer” and “Maritime industry for logistics”.

“It has emerged that, even with the huge expansion of renewable electricity generation capacities in Germany, there is a considerable need for imports of climate-neutral energy sources. Our study shows that this requires considerable effort but is feasible if the efforts are consistently pursued,” says Dr Nils Meyer-Larsen from ISL.

The study considers Australia, Chile, Iceland, Canada, Morocco, Norway and the United Arab Emirates, among others, as possible production locations for hydrogen products that Germany could import. According to the study’s results, the greatest advantages when using the existing infrastructure are offered by a diversified use of all relevant energy sources. It emerges that, regarding the production of hydrogen products (e.g. in Australia, the People’s Republic of China and Iceland), importing to Germany via ship is quite competitive compared to possible pipelines (e.g. between Morocco and Germany) and becomes more and more competitive with increasing distance.

When importing synthetic variants of established fossil fuels, such as e-crude (synthetic crude oil) or methane (synthetic natural gas), according to the study, trans-shipment and storage in the ports as well as distribution via hinterland transportation can be easily undertaken. The existing infrastructure – refineries, filling station networks, natural gas distribution networks, etc. – could be used. Other hydrogen and PtX transports are possible and also make sense for special applications but require major new construction or reconstruction of the infrastructure as well as the adaptation and broadening of regulations.

“Hydrogen will play an important role in achieving the climate goals. The study shows that there is still work to be done to establish a sustainable hydrogen economy in Germany,” said project manager Katja Leuteritz, officer for ports and infrastructure at the German Maritime Centre. “But it also shows the opportunities that hydrogen and its by-products offer for the maritime industry”, she adds.

“The results of the comprehensive study reveal that all maritime sub-sectors can make an important contribution to climate protection”, emphasises Claus Brandt, managing director of the German Maritime Centre. “In order to meet the German demand for hydrogen and PtX energy sources domestically, the political conditions for the sufficient production of regenerative electricity for manufacturing should be put in place at an early stage with a view to possible global technology leadership in this field,” he continues. It is important for the players in the German maritime industry to recognise new opportunities and chances at an early stage and to make consistent use of them.

The study formulated research needs and recommendations for action. The latter are mostly related to the maritime sector or are of cross-sectoral relevance.
The following recommendations were developed in three categories – political, scientific and technological:

  • The aim is to establish research and development projects as well as prototype projects in order to gain practical experience with the various technologies; these can form the basis for making well-founded decisions. This is because, for example, before the construction of infrastructures for the bunkering of ships can begin, the type of hydrogen-based fuels that will become established in the various areas of shipping must be evaluated.
  • Concentrate domestic generation on H2 direct use. Here, rapid success can be achieved via storage in underground facilities and delivery to large-scale industry through a distribution network. Importing PtX, such as e-crude, synthetic methanol or synthetic methane, offers the option of achieving rapid greenhouse gas savings, especially in the household and logistics sectors, due to the presence of an existing infrastructure.

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Dr. Regine Klose-Wolf
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