Australia has huge renewable energy resources for producing green hydrogen © amophoto/AdobeStock

HySupply: German-Australian Feasibility Study of Hydrogen

For the first time, BDI and acatech are investigating how an intercontinental supply chain for renewable hydrogen between two industrialized countries could be realised. The aim is to identify real business cases to pave the way for a long-term hydrogen partnership between Germany and Australia.

The project is a result of the previous acatech/BDI cooperation project "Pathways into the Energy Future", of which the last fact-finding mission went to Australia. A German delegation met with leading research institutions and companies in the field of hydrogen. The most important finding of the trip: Australia is an ideal partner for a long-term partnership on hydrogen with Germany.

Australia has abundant renewable energy resources and has thus low electricity generation costs for renewable electricity. As one of the largest energy exporters, the country has excellent skills and infrastructure for exporting raw materials. In order to exploit this potential, Australia needs large-scale hydrogen technologies, especially in the field of electrolysis. Germany, on the other hand, is currently the market leader in electrolysis technologies and it will have a great demand for low CO2 hydrogen imports in the future. A possible win-win situation!

Aims of the study

HySupply aims to investigate the feasibility of a renewable hydrogen supply chain between the two countries. Since December 2020, a German-Australian team of leading companies and experts from academia has been investigating existing regulatory, economic and technical barriers along the entire value chain that need to be overcome for the development of a "hydrogen bridge" between Australia and Germany. 

As a first milestone, the German project group has developed a working paper that highlights Australia and Germany as ideal partners for hydrogen and explores four options for intercontinental transport of renewable hydrogen and hydrogen-based energy carriers: Liquid Hydrogen (LH2), Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carriers (LOHC), Ammonia (NH3), and Methanol (MeOH). The working paper is available upon request.

Illustration of a potential German-Australian hydrogen supply chain © BDI/acatech

It is important for the project to act fast and on a large scale. Therefore, HySupply acts from the beginning as a platform for continuous exchange and dialog with the Australian partners. In addition, match-making between German and Australian companies is actively pursued in order to bring the right stakeholders together already during the project. This is intended to support the initiation of concrete implementation projects on an industrial scale.

Members of the German project group

On the German side, the project is accompanied by a project group consisting of leading experts in science and German companies. A number of leading industrial companies are involved, including Air Liquide S.A., BASF SE, E.ON SE, Linde GmbH, Port of Rotterdam, Lufthansa German Airlines, Mineralölwirtschaftsverband e.V. (MWV), RWE Supply & Trading GmbH, Siemens Energy AG and thyssenkrupp Steel Europe AG.

From the German academia, high-level experts also contribute their expertise, including Veronika Grimm (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg), Christian Growitsch (Fraunhofer Gesellschaft), Christopher Hebling (Fraunhofer ISE), Andreas Löschel (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster), Karen Pittel (ifo Institut), Peter Wasserscheid (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg), Michael Sterner (Ostbayerische Technische Hochschule Regensburg) and Maike Schmidt (Zentrum für Sonnenenergie- und Wasserstoff-Forschung BW, ZSW).

Significance of the project

The availability of climate-neutral hydrogen in sufficient quantities and at competitive prices is a prerequisite for achieving the goal of climate neutrality in 2050 without losing important value chains of German industry. This can only be achieved through a global hydrogen market and international partnerships on hydrogen. At the same time such a market offers great potentials for the export of hydrogen technologies from Germany. The national hydrogen strategy therefore devotes two billion euros to the development of international partnerships on hydrogen.

To be able to implement such international partnerships, especially issues concerning the intercontinental and long-distance transport of hydrogen must be clarified. The project thus provides important preliminary work to implement the action plan of the National Hydrogen Strategy to build a global hydrogen market and to strengthen Germany's technological leadership. Furthermore, the project intensifies the exchange with an exporter of fossil fuels and thus works in favour of a global energy transition.