HC-H2 projects in the Rhenish mining area

Lignite will be phased out in the Rhenish mining area by 2030 at the latest. This was decided by the German Federal Government and the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia in 2022. With this decision, they once again modified the law passed in 2020 to phase out lignite-fired power generation, in which 2038 was given as the deadline for phasing out lignite. Germany is phasing this form of power out, as the use of coal to generate electricity results in the emission of greenhouse gases, such as CO2. These emissions are one of the main causes of the current rapid global warming, which must be slowed down as a matter of urgency. We are therefore faced with two important tasks: to develop technologies for a climate-friendly energy economy of the future and to boost the economic power in the Rhenish mining area to offset the phasing-out of lignite. For this reason, the Helmholtz Cluster for a Sustainable and Infrastructure-Compatible Hydrogen Economy (HC-H2) was founded. It consists of the Institute for a Sustainable Hydrogen Economy (INW) at Forschungszentrum Jülich and its project partners in science, business, industry, and local authorities who want to turn the Rhenish mining area into a demonstration region for future hydrogen technologies. HC-H2 is setting up demonstration projects to show investors that innovative hydrogen technologies work and that they are safe and economically viable. The demonstrators, which will be located at different sites in the area, will be visible on a global scale. INW founding director Prof. Peter Wasserscheid likes to cite the example of the Colombian energy minister coming to the Rhenish mining area to see the technologies that are working here and that are also relevant for his country – and then buying these technologies here. HC-H2 is thus playing the role of an accelerator, helping to establish innovative and climate-friendly hydrogen technologies on the market faster than usual. And it is also contributing to structural change, transforming the Rhenish mining area from a region that sells energy generated from lignite to Germany to a region that exports new energy technologies. With the development, operation, and export of the new technologies to Germany and the world, new jobs will be created. In the long term, 15 to 20 such demonstration projects are planned. The first such project, the Multi-SOFC project in Erkelenz, has already been launched.