Saturday, November 27

Gigantic hydrogen project: Helgoland argues over industrial projects

Helgoland likes to describe itself as Germany’s only offshore island. However, it is not particularly large: with an area of ​​around one square kilometer, it is much smaller than the previously undeveloped Berlin Tempelhof Airport. Nevertheless, the island is mentioned again and again when it comes to the future of the German energy transition. Specifically, it is about green hydrogen. This is required to make numerous industrial processes climate-neutral. The problem: The production is extremely energy-intensive, which is why there is far too little of it so far. This is where Heligoland comes into play. Because all around the island there are strong and constant winds. The wind power industry recognized this a few years ago and is currently building the fourth large wind farm near the island. This in turn serves as the basis for the construction work, which is very good for public finances.

Bild: Carsten Steger, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Many European energy giants are involved in the project

This approach is now to be further developed. Initially, it is planned to massively increase the number of wind turbines again. The green electricity produced in this way is then converted into hydrogen directly on site using electrolysis. This is then to be exported from Heligoland to mainland Germany and all over the world. From the point of view of the energy companies, this approach would be extremely lucrative. This is one of the reasons why almost all of the major Europeans in the industry took part in the project called Aqua Ventus: from RWE to Vattenfall and Siemens to Ørsted. Together, these and around sixty other companies want to produce one million tons of green hydrogen per year by 2035 at the latest. This would certainly not meet the needs of German industry for a long time. At least this could reduce the necessary and expensive imports. The project in Helgoland thus represents an important component of the German energy transition.


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Local politicians still disagree

The island’s residents view the plans with a certain degree of skepticism. The project is being driven primarily by the mayor Jörg Singer. On the other hand, his third deputy, Thorsten Falke from the South Schleswig voter association, is one of the opponents. This basically emphasizes the necessity of the energy transition. But Helgoland already contributes enough. The island, however, is not suitable for the planned hydrogen project. His arguments range from the danger to the numerous migratory birds to concerns about the chemicals used in electrolysis. The necessary further expansion of the port is also viewed critically. But the big worry: Heligoland, which is also popular with tourists, could become a pure industrial island. This would provide a lot of business tax income. However, this does not create any jobs for local workers. Instead, external workers are pouring into the island.

The offshore wind turbines were also viewed with skepticism at first

But these leave little money in the local shops. The first signs of such a development can already be observed. The once largest hotel on the island can no longer be booked by tourists. Instead, the energy company RWE has bought in and is housing its workers there. There have not yet been any opinion polls on the planned hydrogen project. External observers report, however, that Falke’s concerns are shared by large parts of the population. However, this was also the case before the first offshore wind farms were built. A fundamental problem of the energy transition becomes visible here: it is basically supported by large parts of the population. As soon as it comes to specific projects in your own neighborhood, skepticism increases sharply in many cases. It should therefore be exciting to see the direction in which Heligoland will develop over the next few years.

Via: The standard

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