Salzgitter AG, Avacon and Linde have taken an important and exemplary step on the path to decarbonizing the steel industry. With the commissioning of “Wind Hydrogen Salzgitter – WindH2”, Germany’s only cross-sector project, green hydrogen will be produced in future with electricity generated by wind power on the site of the steelworks in Salzgitter.
WindH2 is a cornerstone in the SALCOS® – Salzgitter Low CO2 Steelmaking technology project developed by Salzgitter AG. SALCOS® sets out the most efficient way, realizable in the short term, to reducing CO2 emissions, and even for virtually CO2 free steel production in the long term. Hydrogen generated from renewable sources will replace the carbon necessary for smelting iron ore. The three blast furnaces operated to date need to be gradually replaced by a combination of direct reduction plants and electric arc furnaces. Transforming steel production in this way could reduce the associated CO2 emissions by around 95% over the period up until 2050.
The newly built facilities were presented to the public today in Salzgitter. Among others, those present included State Secretary Andreas Feicht, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (representing Peter Altmaier MdB, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy); Dr. Bernd Althusmann, Minister for Economic Affairs, Labor, Transport and Digital Affairs for Lower Saxony; Olaf Lies, Minister for the Environment, Energy, Construction and Climate Protection for Lower Saxony; Dr. Johannes Teyssen, Chief Executive Officer of E.ON SE; Marten Bunnemann, Chief Executive Officer of Avacon AG and Prof. Dr.-Ing. Heinz Jörg Fuhrmann, Chief Executive Officer of Salzgitter AG.
Avacon, a member of the E.ON Group, operates seven newly built wind turbines with an output totaling 30 megawatts on the premises of Salzgitter AG. Salzgitter Flachstahl GmbH has installed two Siemens 1.25 megawatt PEM electrolyzer units on its plant site that are capable of producing around 450 m an hour of ultra pure hydrogen. Today’s steel production already harnesses hydrogen for annealing processes as well as in the hot dip galvanizing lines. Industrial gas producer Linde is currently delivering gas by truck and will continue to secure coverage of hydrogen requirements in the future as well. A test run is currently being made of all the facilities.
With “WindH2”, the partners intend to gather the know-how and experience from the on-site production of wind power and hydrogen, as well as their integration into the complex workflows and processes of an integrated steelworks.
The cost of the entire project – building the wind turbines and the hydrogen plants, including integrating them into the existing supply network – amounts to around EUR € 50 million. The construction of the electrolyzer was subsidized by KfW.
Statements by the speakers at the opening event
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Heinz Jörg Fuhrmann, Chief Executive Officer of Salzgitter AG: “We are proud of our pioneering role in the industrial use of green hydrogen in the steel industry. As we have demonstrated with our SALCOS® project, we are technically in a position to achieve significant CO2 reductions using hydrogen. Unique so far in Germany, the cross-sector “Wind Hydrogen Salzgitter – WindH2” linking is a significant stepping stone on the way to climate-friendly steel production.”
State Secretary Andreas Feicht, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy: “The ‘Wind Hydrogen Salzgitter – WindH2’ was supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in the form of a €1.1 million subsidy from government funding to promote energy efficiency in the economy. The cross-sector linking of wind energy and hydrogen production implements the objective of one of the goals under the German government’s National Hydrogen Strategy: Harnessing the climate-friendly production of hydrogen from renewable energies is a core component for decarbonizing the industry.”
Dr. Johannes Teyssen, Chief Executive Officer of E.ON SE: “Green gases have the wherewithal to become ‘staple foodstuff’ for the transition to alternative energies and make a considerable contribution to decarbonizing industry, mobility and heat. The jointly realized project symbolizes a milestone on the path to virtually CO2 free production and demonstrates that fossil fuels can be replaced by intelligent cross-sector linking.”
Dr. Bernd Althusmann, Minister of Economic Affairs, Labor and Transport and Digital Affairs for Lower Saxony: “In terms of the climate target, decarbonizing steel production with the aid of green hydrogen represents a milestone for Germany’s steel industry. I am all the more delighted that, through Salzgitter AG, Lower Saxony is paving the way for this development on a national basis and, in WindH2, is launching a very promising project. Through its pioneering work, Salzgitter is delivering a blueprint for future climate-friendly production technology in Germany as an industrial location, while securing skilled jobs in Lower Saxony.”
Marten Bunnemann, Chief Executive Officer of Avacon AG: “The wind farm on the industrial site of Salzgitter AG is enabling us to deliver renewable power for the production of green hydrogen. This hydrogen is being deployed directly in the production process and replaces fossil fuels. The first steps in establishing a hydrogen economy are being taken in regional standalone solutions like the one in Salzgitter and are increasingly being aggregated into an overall system. Together with our partners in politics, science and industry, we will be driving this process forward.”
Olaf Lies, Minister for the Environment, Energy, Construction and Climate Protection for Lower Saxony: Minister for Energy and Climate Protection for Lower Saxony: “What in the minds of many was no more than a far-fetched vision of the future is happening here: the gradual decarbonizing of steel production. Climate protection in the energy sector and in industry is much more than just power from renewable sources. Here, it is about securing highly skilled jobs and taking the development of our industry location forward. With the cost of CO2 on the rise, green steel is also becoming increasingly cost efficient. The world is looking on with suspense at what is happening here: The pioneering work achieved here has every chance of becoming a ‘Made in Germany’ export hit.”