Green hydrogen for green steel: Paving the way to Hydrogen Valley

thyssenkrupp aims to be climate neutral by 2050. To achieve this we are gradually converting our steel production to direct reduction with climate-neutral hydrogen. For the transformation to succeed, large quantities of the light H2 molecule are needed. Together with the energy company STEAG we are taking the first step toward a local hydrogen economy in the Ruhr region.

With hydrogen to climate neutrality

As one of Germany’s biggest CO2 emitters, thyssenkrupp’s steel business can make a big difference in terms of climate protection. After all, there is also great potential for savings here. “Hydrogen is the key to turning the big lever we have in reducing CO2 emissions in the steel industry,” explains Dr. Arnd Köfler, Executive Board Member for Production at thyssenkrupp Steel. By using climate-neutral hydrogen, thyssenkrupp can avoid 20 million tons of CO2 a year in steel in the long term.

But where will the necessary climate-friendly hydrogen come from? This has to be planned at an early stage, says Köfler: “We have to set the course for supply today in order to be able to produce climate-neutral steel tomorrow.” To answer the question, thyssenkrupp’s steel and hydrogen experts have teamed up with the Essen-based energy company STEAG. Together they are working on a feasibility study to supply the Duisburg steel mill with green hydrogen by building a water electrolysis plant at the STEAG site in Duisburg-Walsum.

The STEAG site in Duisburg-Walsum is located about three kilometers from the thyssenkrupp steel mill.

Establishment of a hydrogen hub in NRW

A partnership with an exemplary function, says Dr. Arnd Köfler: “With this project, we are laying the foundation for a hydrogen economy in NRW.” The cooperation between STEAG and the two segments thyssenkrupp Steel and thyssenkrupp Chemical & Process Technologies shows on a small scale how the hydrogen strategies of the German government, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the European Union could be implemented.

Dr. Ralf Schiele, STEAG Managing Director, also sees the cooperation with thyssenkrupp as a lighthouse project with a special signal effect for the region. “The construction and operation of an electrolysis plant on this scale not only secures Duisburg as a steel and energy location in the long term, but also turns the city into the nucleus of a successfully flourishing green hydrogen economy all at once,” says Schiele. “This has radiance beyond Duisburg and the Ruhr region.”

Assembly of a water electrolysis module for the production of green hydrogen.

500 megawatts for the climate

With thyssenkrupp alone, hydrogen demand and technological expertise for electrolysis come together at a local level in the Ruhr region. The steel mill in Duisburg will need around 20,000 metric tons of green hydrogen per year in the coming years and up to 720,000 metric tons from 2050 to produce its steel in a climate-neutral way. With the engineers from thyssenkrupp Uhde, the expertise to build the electrolysis plant on a large industrial scale comes from within the Group and from Dortmund, just a few kilometers away.

The plant engineers have more than 50 years’ experience in the design, construction and operation of electrolysis plants for the production of green hydrogen. With a capacity of up to 500 megawatts, the planned electrolysis plant on the STEAG site is expected to supply around 75,000 tons of green hydrogen per year – enough for thyssenkrupp Steel’s first direct reduction plant. And a short-term supply for the steel mill.

By 2050 thyssenkrupp Steel will gradually convert steel production in Duisburg to direct reduction with hydrogen.

A blueprint for H2 know-how from NRW.

The third partner STEAG apart from its direct location advantages convinces with its experience in hydrogen economy, for example with the “HydroHub” in Völklingen-Fenne in Saarland. This know-how connects them.
As the largest project of its kind, Sami Pelkonen, CEO of thyssenkrupp Chemical & Process Technologies, sees the cooperation as a blueprint for exporting know-how and high-tech applications from NRW to the world: “In this strong cooperation partnership, we can make our cutting-edge technology from the region usable for the region.”

The three companies plan to start project development – and the first step towards the NRW Hydrogen Hub – immediately following a positive outcome of their feasibility study.

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