TotalEnergies and VNG, a German natural gas distribution company, signed an agreement to initiate the future supply of green hydrogen to the 227,000-b/d Leuna refinery in central Germany operated by TotalEnergies.
Under the agreement, green hydrogen will be produced from renewable electricity with a 30 Mw electrolyzer in Bad Lauchstädt, built and operated by VNG with its partner Uniper. VNG and partners have made a positive final investment decision on the Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park, the company said in a release June 21.
The energy park is designed as a production-scale laboratory to produce green hydrogen and its storage, transport, marketing, and use. It will use renewable electricity from a nearby windfarm to produce green hydrogen. Temporarily stored in a salt cavern specially created for this purpose, the green hydrogen can be fed into the hydrogen network of the chemical industry in central Germany via a converted gas pipeline.
With the agreement between TotalEnergies and VNG, TotalEnergies becomes the first anchor customer for green hydrogen from the project. The agreement contributes to the decarbonization of the Leuna refinery and will reduce the site's annual CO2 emissions by up to 80,000 tons by 2030, TotalEnergies said in a separate June 21 release.
Work on the electrolyser—which will take about 2 years, VNG said—and on a gas transport pipeline that is to be converted—including construction of a new airlock for introducing pigs to the network—will begin shortly, VNG continued. In 2024, the Leuna refinery will be hooked up by pipeline to the future ONTRAS hydrogen network, giving the refinery access to the European hydrogen infrastructure and the international markets for green hydrogen.
Trial operation will start in early 2025, and from third-quarter 2025 the pipeline is scheduled to transport green hydrogen from the Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park for use in the refinery.
TotalEnergies plans to decarbonize all hydrogen used in its European refineries by 2030. The goal is to replace gray hydrogen with low-carbon hydrogen, representing a reduction of 3 million tons/year of CO2 by 2030, said Jean-Marc Durand, senior vice-president, TotalEnergies Refining Base Chemicals Europe.
Elsewhere in Europe, in November 2022, TotalEnergies and Air Liquide signed a partnership agreement to build a circular system at the Grandpuits biorefinery to produce and harness renewable hydrogen. At La Mède, the Masshylia project to produce hydrogen in partnership with Engie is moving forward.