Utility Uniper, start-up Hydrogenious LOHC and Jera Americas together with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) are eyeing up a plan to transport hydrogen from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Germany using so-called liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC) technology.

The companies announced a joint study agreement during the visit of German economics and climate minister Robert Habeck to the UAE speed up an already initiated hydrogen cooperation between the two countries as Europe’s largest economy is striving for energy independence from Russia in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

Habeck on a tour to countries that could supply large volumes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and hydrogen to Germany had already closed an LNG deal with Qatar the day before, and a hydrogen agreement with Norway last week.

“There is a great need for research and direct implementation, especially in the production, storage and transport of green hydrogen in the UAE, and the import and use in Germany,” Habeck said.

“Today's partnerships thus make a twofold contribution: they strengthen the achievement of our climate goals and at the same time our energy security.”

Hydrogen is a very light element, which makes it difficult to transport over large distances. Hydrogenious claims its LOHC technology provides a safe, low cost means of bulk hydrogen storage and transportation, bonding hydrogen molecules to a non-flammable liquid, making it suitable and safer for transportation and distribution.

“Europe targets the import of carbon free energy in the form of green hydrogen. LOHC can be an enabler to realize the demand at scale in a safe and cost-efficient manner,” said Hydrogenious CEO Daniel Teichmann.

“The synergy of ADNOC’s energy sources, Uniper’s offtaking and Jera’s energy trading experience will create a seamless value chain in order to bring clean energy into the European market."

Hydrogenious' LOHC technology is based on the proprietary carrier material benzyl toluene (BT). When stored within the BT, no hydrogen losses occur, allowing long storage durations and storage of large volumes. It offers easy handling characteristics under ambient pressure and temperatures, even in cold conditions, allowing for its handling within the existing fuel logistics infrastructure, Uniper said.

Its energy density is highly favorable as a transportation vessel can store approximately five times more energy compared to compressed hydrogen, the company adds. BT is widely used in industry and thus commercially available in large quantities. Moreover, it can be loaded and unloaded with hydrogen many hundreds of times and is recyclable.

"Uniper is already actively involved in large scale hydrogen projects in the Middle East with a view to exporting hydrogen to Europe and Asian markets,” Uniper chief commercial officer Niek den Hollander said.

“Our team of experts is constantly evaluating technologies that will support the large scale, commercial transport of hydrogen through carrier products to our markets.”

Germany as part of its national hydrogen strategy plans to use up to 3 million tons of clean hydrogen per year, importing most of it, the climate ministry said. That volume could rise to more than 11 million tons per year by 2050.

The ministry added that Uniper, Hydrogenious, ADNOC and JERA will start with a demonstration project as a first step to build up a green hydrogen supply chain from the UAE to the German North Sea port of Wilhelmshaven. Initially, blue hydrogen (made from fossil gas linked to carbon capture and storage) will be used temporarily, but then replaced by green hydrogen (made from renewables via electrolysis).

Next to the transport of hydrogen through LOHC technology, Germany is also testing other ways of transporting the green gas.

Fellow German utility RWE last week said together with Dutch gas operator Gasunie and German development bank KfW it plans to build a terminal for the import of green ammonia at Brunsbüttel, another German North Sea port.

In the wake of Habeck’s visit to Abu Dhabi, ADNOC also signed first supply deals for test deliveries of blue ammonia to Germany with German copper producer Aurubis, RWE, utility Steag, and GEWEC.

For test cargos of blue ammonia, the oil company also plans a transport supply chain with Hamburger Hafen & Logistik.

Siemens Energy, German airline Lufthansa and UAE renewables giant Masdar also are working on a project for the production of synthetic jet fuel, called ‘Green Falcon’, at first linked to a 20MW electrolyser for the production of green hydrogen.

Germany’s Fraunhofer research institute and the UAE’s ministry for energy and infrastructure further have closed an agreement to deepen their research exchange in renewables and applied hydrogen technologies.