Hamburg as a European model region

Hamburg as a European model region

Location Advantages

The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg has the largest German seaport, which forms the largest contiguous industrial area in Europe. In addition to the maritime sector, the city owes its importance and prosperity to other key industries – such as the modern aviation industry, but also the basic and raw materials industry, which produces steel, copper and aluminium. In the face of climate change, the city needs to become cleaner and more sustainable – this has been laid down in its climate protection plan. Implementation is ensured by the Hamburg Climate Protection Act, which currently aims to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. It is currently being revised to comply with the federal government's climate protection amendment, which specifies higher targets by 2030 and greenhouse gas neutrality by 2045. The hydrogen economy in the Hamburg metropolitan region will create new jobs and offers German companies the opportunity to position themselves globally with technological leadership. Despite the economic opportunities, it is not an end in itself, but instead a necessary step to achieve comprehensive decarbonisation in line with federal and EU targets – to ensure that Hamburg's economy is strongly positioned for the post-carbon era and secure the region’s existence.

Favourable circumstances

To date, hydrogen has been produced almost entirely from natural gas, thereby releasing or storing CO2 – this is referred to as “grey” or “blue” hydrogen. In Hamburg, however, it can be produced climate-neutrally as green hydrogen via electrolysis using green electricity available in large quantities from the neighbouring federal states with abundant wind power and the offshore wind farms in the North Sea. Thanks to its geographical proximity, the required energy can reach Hamburg in a way that is favourable for the system, i.e. without major transportation losses and extensive pipeline construction, and the hydrogen can in turn be easily delivered to local consumers. This extensive, high-density producer and consumer structure for green hydrogen in the north is an advantage over other regions.

Hydrogen ecosystem along the value chain

In light of the oversupply of green electricity from the north combined with the dynamically growing needs of local industry, the need for inner-city production capacities for green hydrogen quickly becomes apparent. The site of the former Moorburg coal-fired power plant in the port of Hamburg is ideal for the construction of a suitably dimensioned electrolyser. Not only is its location extremely favourable for the project – the existing infrastructure with a 380 kV connection to the transmission grid also offers optimal production conditions. Branching out from this nucleus of the local hydrogen economy, the urban hydrogen grid is already being planned, and will be able to transport and store the gas.

Hamburg Green Hydrogen Hub, Ⓒ Wärme Hamburg

Hub for green hydrogen imports

Despite the favourable forecasts and the ambitious production plans, the on-site production of hydrogen will only be able to meet part of local demand. The existing demand from Hamburg's industry is expected to double by 2030. The import of hydrogen will therefore be essential. The existing port infrastructure satisfies the prerequisites for this, e.g. for an import terminal with a direct connection to the local and supra-regional hydrogen grids. In addition, new supra-regional projects by the transmission system operators provide the prospect of possible connections to the European hydrogen grid (European Hydrogen Backbone): in the long term, it will span the industrial centres of northern Germany and as far as the Netherlands and Scandinavia, where there are also plans to establish hydrogen industries in the coming years. Hamburg thus holds the potential to become a hub for imports by ship and pipeline.