02 Mar 2021, 13:30
Julian Wettengel

German coal region looks for transition opportunities with new green hydrogen lab

Clean Energy Wire

The German environment ministry and the government of the state of Brandenburg have opened a new research institution for climate-friendly synthetic fuels – the PtX Lab Lusatia – in the heart of one of the country’s major lignite mining regions. As a mixture of think tank, research and industry network and real-life laboratory, the Lab and its output are supposed to be “part of the opportunities” of the energy transition for the coal region Lusatia, environment minister Svenja Schulze said at a press conference. “Entering this technology goes hand in hand with exiting coal,” she added. In Lusatia, many jobs and businesses are at risk due to Germany’s coal phase-out over the coming years, both in the coal industry itself and indirectly in associated sectors. Researchers and companies will cooperate in the Lab to make it an “international hub for green hydrogen and its derivatives,” said the environment ministry. It is set up in the city of Cottbus and will have a staff of 30-60 employees in the initial phase. The lab and a future pilot power-to-x facility (PtX) are financed with 180 million euros by 2024, made available to regions such as Lusatia as part of the coal exit legislation.

Using renewable electricity to produce hydrogen and in following steps CO₂-neutral methane or liquid fuels could solve some of the Energiewende’s toughest challenges. Making green fuels with wind and solar power could provide carbon-neutral fuel for heating and transport. Many experts believe the government must now scale up the technology to make it available – and affordable – in time to meet climate targets. Germany’s coal regions increasingly look towards hydrogen technology as an alternative as the fossil fuel is phased out, and are trying to set up other energy transition projects, such as a large-scale battery.

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