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Green Hydrogen Conference

Green Hydrogen Conference on June 12 and 13, 2023 | Digisustain 2023

Building up Large-scale International Hydrogen Hubs Requires New Technologies and a New Integrated Approach for Implementation

Export-Akademie hosted the Green Hydrogen Conference in the framework of Digisustain in Frankfurt. The conference looked into the future key enablers of green hydrogen production and its benefits for the global economy. EABW created a conference program that included topics ranging from supply chain, green hydrogen hubs, carbon markets, R&D, to training and education. The key players in sustainable industrialization and a global transition towards decarbonization could join the impactful discussions and network together in Kap Europa.

It was a great honour to welcome partners of Export-Akademie from China, India, Namibia, South Africa, and Europe to the conference. China was represented by Helen Ma (Steinbeis Center Asian Pacific) and Dr. Peter Merker (DSE Green Technologies). Representants from leading Chinese companies BAIC Group, Heracles and SinoHytec participated at the conference. Cooperation partners Vineet Goyal from Steinbeis India and Raj Vangapandu from IndoEuroSync could contribute to impactful discussions. It was a pleasure to see Francois van Schalkwyk (Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board) and Dr. Markus Thill (Africa President Robert Bosch South Africa). Also, DSE guests from Austria, Belgium, Great Britain, Netherlands, and Italy participated in the two-days event.

Green Energy and Green Hydrogen Technologies

Technologies and the green hydrogen value chain were the main discussion topics of the first conference day.

 
 

 

 

Green Energy

Insights into the latest technologies for photovoltaic and concentrated solar power were discussed in the first panel. The speakers concluded that green hydrogen can be produced only with the use of high-performance panels in combination with the high-efficient production of solar heat. 70% of the costs of green hydrogen production is related to energy production. Therefore, it is essential to use PV and SCP panels with the latest technology and the highest efficiency. Dr. Joachim Krüger, CEO of Solarlite stated that one of the most economic solutions was setting up large-scale solar hybrid PV-CSP plants to secure energy supply 24/7. To ensure the ability to supply enough PV panels, it is crucial to build up additional production plants in Europe and on the African continent. This needs strong political support and the re-establishment of a local material and components supply chain, which is currently unavailable neither in Europe nor in Africa. These are the main challenges specified by Dr. Christian Buchner, Vice President Business Unit PV, Schmid Group.

Electrolysis

The focus of the second panel was on technologies and applications for PEM electrolysis, alkaline electrolysis, electrolyser systems, as well as integrated and optimized processes for green hydrogen production. Dr. Johann Steinhauer, Project Manager H2-Electrolysis at EBZ stated that the future demand for electrolyser equipment needed automated production processes. EBZ is setting up automated production lines for automotive OEMs and bringing this competence into the green hydrogen business. This was also confirmed by Paul Simon, Director of Business Unit Development at Robert Bosch. He mentioned that

“high-quality products and low failure rates are only possible with high automation.”

 

“To secure the high amount of needed resources in the future, recycling technologies and a circular system are pivotal, as it is established for precious metals,” said Dr. Philipp Walter, Executive Vice President New Business Development at Heraeus Deutschland. He also mentioned that this core competence and efficient and stable catalysts with low precious metal content were the contribution of Heraeus to the fast-growing business of electrolyser production.

Hydrogen Value Chain

For setting up large-scale green hydrogen plants, the entire green hydrogen value chain needs to be activated. One component in this chain is water with a high purification quality, so water desalination and H2O air capture are irreplaceable technologies. Rudolf Edlinger, CEO of Aqua Engineering, stated, “The combination of reverse osmosis and thermal desalination with heat from concentrated solar power can reduce the energy costs. The use of chemicals in the overall process can be reduced as well.” Thomas Wu, Member of the Executive Board in DSE Green Technologies, pursued the matter and assumed that salt obtained from the desalination process could be used for further chemical downstream products. However, this is only possible, when the salt is not contaminated by chemicals used in the reverse osmosis process. In the DSE green hydrogen hubs, the hydrogen will be used locally, so chemical plants for producing green synthetics will be set up.

International Green Hydrogen Hubs

The DSE Lighthouse Projects in Namibia and India are directly linked to the development of an ecosystem for green hydrogen. It is essential to localize equipment manufacturing and to involve regional stakeholders in the planning process of hydrogen projects. Working out a regional development concept with neighbouring cities, ports, and airports is also an important factor. Without the involvement of all relevant stakeholders, large-scale projects fail due to resistance from local residents. This was also confirmed by Dr. Markus Thill, Africa President at Robert Bosch. He highlighted the importance of empowerment and the development of a sustainable ecosystem for the entire value chain of green hydrogen. Bosch is a major partner for components in the green hydrogen value chain and intends to localize component manufacturing plants in the SADC region if it makes sense for all stakeholders. Vineet Goyal, Director of the Steinbeis Centre for Technology Transfer India, gave an overview of the green hydrogen clusters in India. Steinbeis India in cooperation with the Export-Akademie Baden-Württemberg and Steinbeis University is supporting the government of Maharashtra in setting up a manufacturing hub for green hydrogen equipment. German mobility and hydrogen companies are also involved in this project. A test and demonstration centre for green hydrogen electrolysers will enable commercialisation of various technologies from across the globe.

 

 
 

 

 

The first day was closed with the announcement of nominated top 10 companies SDG Awards. The GreenMLA® Mittelstand nominants were presented by Prof. Dr. Rolf Pfeiffer, CEO of Export-Akademie Baden-Württemberg. Roland Schatz, CEO of UNGSII Foundation, showed the ranking for the members of the DAX 30 and the finance industry. The winners will be defined in the next months and will be awarded at the World Economic Forum 2023.

Growth Market China and SDG Certification of Raw Materials

The second day of the Green Hydrogen Conference was full of networking and fruitful negotiations. Jens Deutschendorf, State Secretary for Economy, Energy, Transport, Housing of the State of Hesse gave an insightful keynote speech on the hydrogen strategy of the state of Hessen and Germany.

Hydrogen Offtake and Distribution

Markets and acceptance for green hydrogen with regard on offtake and distribution were also discussed. Bjoern Noack, Project Director Sustainable Mobility Strategy at Robert Bosch, saw a new decade for trading green energy over long distances. With GH2 the transportation of green energy is not limited any more to a local grid infrastructure and can be done over long distances by pipelines, ships or trucks. For this, Bosch is offering technical solutions along the entire value chain, from supplying PEM stacks up to components for storage systems and e.g. fuel-cells in hydrogen applications. Yet, missing standards and norms in developing markets may limit technology transfer, according to Noack. Thomas Wu opposed that for DSE, there were no offtake limitations, since DSE has the holistic approach to produce equipment in Africa for their large-scale green hydrogen plants. Offtake was not a problem, because green steel and chemical plants were planned near the locations of the green hydrogen production sites. He concluded,

“The philosophy of DSE is that all projects fulfil the SDG criteria and create value in the African countries. We are looking forward to the joint implementation of green hydrogen projects in line with 17 SDGs and in close cooperation with technology partners and local partners in Namibia, China, India and United Arabic Emirates.”

Hydrogen Growth Market China

New insights into China’s green hydrogen strategy were given by Chinese partners in the next panels. Keynotes were hold by Zhang Yulei, Deputy Director of Beijing Municipal Science & Technology Commission, Wang Dong, Director of Shanghai Investment Promotion Service Center, Ma Yanan, Deputy District Mayor of Caofeidian District in Tangshan and Pei Tao, Chairman of Tangshan Caofeidian District Tanda New Energy Group. The latest technologies and services in green hydrogen were presented by Bi Jianping, General Manager Foton Europe – BAIC Group, Yu Min, Executive Vice President of Beijing SinoHytec and Prof. Xiang Yan, Chairman of Beijing Heracles Novel Technology. The innovativeness and the rapid implementation of products and services for the green hydrogen transformation in China impressed the guests. Consequently, China is considered as one of the key players in the future for green hydrogen production, equipment and mobility solutions.

SDG Certification of Materials

The certification of materials needed for the green hydrogen value chain was discussed in the following panel with Prof. James Bindenagel, former US ambassador to Germany and architect of the Kimberly process and Roland Schatz, Director of UNGSII Foundation. With the Just Transition – Kinshasa Process they offer a

new pathway to certify raw materials, according to the SDG criteria. Prof. Bindenagel concluded, “The establishment of a green hydrogen economy offers the potential for a significant economic return for African countries. However, the key to success is to increase economic output by applying effective regulatory compliance practices. They provide ethical methods and guidance for clean and fair trade of natural resources by imposing the certification process. The Just Transition – Kinshasa Process will enable SADC to take leadership in the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) negotiations. With the Kinshasa Process, that African-led initiative will allow countries, OECD, industry associations, NGOs, and others to encourage global acceptance of mining and metals certification.” Namibia and the other SADC counties can become a benchmark for the certification process and can play a leading role in worldwide for sustainable development and attracting more foreign investors through the application of reliable methods for compliance. In line with the DSE projects, the Namibian government can define how to use the green hydrogen fog-harvesting concept and certification of the minerals needed to develop 21st century economies with electronics, electric cars, batteries, and other modern building blocks.

Empowerment

Knowledge shapes the green transformation of industrial value chains. The final panel gave insights into project integrated master programmes, skill development for professionals and digital learning. For securing the global transformation into the green hydrogen economy, it is essential to join forces with leading universities and research centres worldwide. Raj Vangapandu, CEO of the German Centre for Advanced Engineering and Management Studies, is working in upskilling students from India with German language and in linking them with German companies for job integrated master’s studies. Currently, more than 500 students are taking part in this program in South India. An integral part of global knowledge and technology transfer is the use of digital learning platforms and tools. Manfred Zöllner, CEO of Quimron, pointed out,

”Learning tools needed to be flexible and must have an open approach for different types of learners. So, individual learning paths must be created and supported in a multifaceted way. The use of artificial intelligence the creation of ”knowledge nuts” makes it possible and enable to achieve best learning results in short time.”

For capacity building in the African green hydrogen hubs is the Pan African Technology Transfer University with industry integrated trainings and educational programs. This university is established by Export-Akademie Baden-Württemberg, Steinbeis University and UNGSII Foundation in Namibia. Prof. Dr. Bertram Lohmüller from Steinbeis University claimed, ”Vocational trainings and master studies will be conducted in close cooperation with educational institutions in Namibia.” He is convinced that the realisation of extensive green hydrogen projects required new ways for technology transfer.

Realisation of Large-scale Green Hydrogen Projects

Overall, the conference gave insights into the entire value chain for green hydrogen. Thomas Wu, Joachim Winterstein and Bertram Lohmüller, the members of the executive board at DSE, concluded that the realisation of green hydrogen projects prescribed a holistic approach. Therefore, DSE is localising the equipment production in Namibia and is using this equipment for developing large-scale green hydrogen manufacturing plants. Hydrogen will be not exported, but will be used for producing further components like green steel and chemicals. For developing the green hydrogen hub in a sustainable way, the SDG criteria are set as the company philosophy. This is reflected in the development of an SDG city and the overall region, as well as the establishment of the Pan Africa Technology Transfer University in cooperation with the UNGSII foundation.

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