Generating hydrogen fuel with wind? The "eFarm" project - the largest green hydrogen mobility project in Germany to date - shows that this is possible. In the district of North Frisia, Schleswig-Holstein, the pilot project will install a hydrogen infrastructure from generation to processing and fleet utilization. The aim is to introduce a sustainable, collective system to society at large based on renewable energies: Producing, transporting, processing and marketing hydrogen together. This is an ambitious project that requires a great deal of know-how, funding and conviction - and at the same time can be seen as a milestone with regard to the energy turnaround.
The eFarm project provides supply security in North Frisia for 100 % green, regionally produced hydrogen from wind power, thus paving the way for all citizens and companies who want to purchase a hydrogen vehicle. What does it take to achieve this?
At the beginning of April 2020, the green light was given in Bosbüll for the first construction phase of the eFarm project: In order to be able to convert the wind power produced here into storable hydrogen, two of the total of five electrolysers will be installed here. 3 further electrolysers in Langenhorn, Dörpum and Reußenköge will follow.
But how do you get the wind get into the tank? The hydrogen produced by the electrolysers is first filled into mobile storage containers and transported by truck to the two hydrogen filling stations in Husum and Niebüll. Here the hydrogen is further compressed in order to enable fuelling of the fuel cell buses as required, as well as additional hydrogen-powered trucks and cars. The fuelling process takes just a few minutes; one full tank is sufficient to travel 350 km in a bus or 600 km in a car, for example. The vehicles are supplied with 100 % green hydrogen right from the start.
"Sounds very simple", laughs André Steinau, member of the executive management at GP JOULE and responsible for the company's hydrogen projects. "But our engineers and technicians spent numerous years of development work until the eFarm project could be realized." In 2016, the renewable energy experts launched a feasibility study with the support of the state of Schleswig-Holstein. Steinau now drives a hydrogen-powered Hyundai Nexo. "GP JOULE is itself a project planner, builder and operator of sustainable projects. In this way we can test innovations directly at our premises".
The two fuel cell buses, which will be purchased for this project and used in regional public transport, are only the beginning of the new hydrogen mobility in North Frisia: Since 20 further investors are involved in the eFarm project, there is already a great willingness on their part to invest in more than 100 hydrogen vehicles, from passenger cars to trucks, and to use the green, regional hydrogen supply. "This finally creates a real connection and benefit between regional renewable energy production and local energy consumption. This is decisive for the acceptance and expansion of renewable energy generation, for creating jobs and long-term added value," says Ove Petersen.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the first hydrogen filling station will be in Niebüll in May 2020.
In order to achieve the climate targets for heating, industry and transport, it is absolutely necessary to implement the use of renewable energies in all energy sectors. However, in order to make these available, storable and thus usable for all sectors, a large proportion of solar and wind power must be converted into hydrogen in the future," says Petersen. It is also important for the transformation of energy and therefore mobility to be accepted and shaped by the citizens. This means that acceptance management and participation are also part of the eFarm strategy: In addition to the possibility of direct citizen participation, a dialogue process is to be initiated, with which the necessary acceptance, including its influencing variables, is to be systematically recorded in a monitoring process.
"The e-Farm project makes it possible to build up a complete value-added chain of renewable energies and to make it directly usable and tangible for everyone in the region. With the e-Farm we are creating additional value from renewable energies locally, where they are produced. This strengthens the acceptance for the further expansion of wind and solar power and shows that everyone in the region can benefit directly from the energy turnaround" Ove Petersen, founder and CEO of GP JOULE GmbH
The production of hydrogen also generates waste heat - and the North Frisian eFarm project provides this for supplying heat locally. With this type of sector coupling, the cooperative project proves that it is taking the sustainable use of resources seriously.
Based around the joint project previously known as the "Hydrogen Mobility Project", the company eFarming GmbH & Co. KG, which was founded by GP JOULE, will work together with citizen's wind and solar parks, companies and municipal utilities to set up and operate a modularly expandable hydrogen production and distribution network in North Frisia.
The ongoing eFarm project is subsidised by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure with a total of EUR 8 million as part of the National Innovation Programme Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology funding directive.
“If people can see the connection between renewable energy production and consumption, as well as the wide-ranging benefits then they will accept the energy turnaround. To this end, eFarm will enable direct citizen participation"
Ove Petersen, GP JOULE co-founder and managing director
Enabling citizens to experience renewable energies and participate in regional value creation creates the necessary acceptance of the project. In view of this, project supervision includes systematic acceptance management in addition to direct citizen participation: in this way, a dialogue process is initiated in which acceptance is systematically monitored, indicating influence variables.