Essen-based energy company STEAG, Duisburg-based steel producer thyssenkrupp Steel and Dortmund-based thyssenkrupp Uhde Chlorine Engineers, specializing in electrolysis technology, are working on a joint feasibility study. The study deals with the construction of a water electrolysis plant at the STEAG site in Duisburg-Walsum by thyssenkrupp Uhde Chlorine Engineers, the structuring of energy supply and operation of the electrolysis plant by STEAG and the supply of green hydrogen and oxygen to thyssenkrupp Steel's steel mill in the neighboring Duisburg district of Bruckhausen.

“At its core, our climate transformation is based on the use of hydrogen“, explains Dr. Arnd Köfler, chief technology officer at thyssenkrupp Steel. “It is the key to using the great potential we have in reducing CO2 emissions in the steel industry. It is important to plan ahead. We must set the course for supply today so that we can produce climate-neutral steel tomorrow. In this context, the co-operation between three companies based in the region is an important element. With this project, we will lay the foundation of a hydrogen economy in North Rhine-Westphalia. Moreover, this project offers investors the possibility to directly invest in this growth market.“

STEAG site in Duisburg-Walsum offers numerous advantages

The immediate proximity of the sites allows optimum transport connections to the steelworks: The project includes the construction of two new pipelines to transport hydrogen and oxygen from Walsum to the steel mill less than three kilometres away. The connection to the extra high-voltage grid ensures the supply of green electricity for the electrolysis; large-scale battery systems ensure grid stability. The approximately 15-hectare site in Duisburg-Walsum offers the possibility to erect electrolysis units with a total capacity of up to 500 MW. It also has a connection to the existing natural gas network, which in the future could be used for the transport of hydrogen.

But not only the physical proximity of the STEAG site is an argument in favour of the Essen-based energy company. With the ‘HydroHub’ in Völklingen-Fenne, Saarland, a project outline included by the Federal Ministry of Economics in the group of ”Real-World Laboratories of the Energy Revolution“, STEAG has already gained experience in the hydrogen economy.

“The joint project of thyssenkrupp and STEAG would send out a strong signal for an important centre of the German industry: Construction and operation of an electrolysis plant of this scale would not only safeguard the steel and energy location in Duisburg, but would make the city the centre of a thriving green hydrogen economy in one go. This will have an impact beyond Duisburg and the Ruhr region“, says STEAG’s managing director Dr. Ralf Schiele. Duisburg would thus become a global beacon project in the field of climate-neutral steel production. At the same time, the project is an important part of STEAG’s strategic reorientation, with the focus on developing the business with energy solutions and on intensifying activities in the field of renewables.

Water electrolysis technology by thyssenkrupp

The water electrolysis system, says thyssenkrupp, will be installed by the company’s Uhde Chlorine Engineers’ Green Hydrogen product division. It consists of pre-fabricated standard modules. This modular system makes it easy to scale up a plant to several hundred megawatts or gigawatts. This is why the technology is particularly suitable even beyond green steel production for an industrial-scale decarbonization on the path towards sustainable value chains and CO2 reduction. This kind of sector coupling enables new business models and a sustainable circular economy, which is to be completely powered by renewable energy sources in the future. Together with the Business Unit Chemical and Process Technologies, thyssenkrupp in Dortmund is able to supply the entire range of green chemicals, from hydrogen to ammonia, methanol and synthetic natural gas, thus contributing significantly to a climate-neutral industry.

Being the largest project of its kind, this project is a blueprint for exporting know-how and high-tech applications from North Rhine-Westphalia to the world. “We are excited to contribute our 50 years of experience in the planning, construction and operation of electrolysis plants to this project, said Sami Pelkonen, CEO of thyssenkrupp’s Business Unit Chemical and Process Technologies.

Attractive project for investors

According to thyssenkrupp, the project will be open to investors: Aside from participating in the project development, investors can acquire shares in the new operating company to be founded and in doing so, they will finance – together with the project partners – the development and construction of the water electrolysis plant and the connection to the steel mill, while securing a stable cash flow due to the regular purchase of green hydrogen and oxygen by thyssenkrupp Steel. The geographical proximity to the customer makes the project largely independent of third parties and facilitates its swift realization. Apart from attracting investors, the project partners will also apply for public funding granted within the scope of state aid for climate-neutral technologies.

The project development is planned to start as soon as the feasibility study delivers a positive result.