Uniper has closed a cooperation agreement with the aim of supplying the SALCOS low-carbon project in Salzgitter with renewable hydrogen from the utility’s green H2 project at the German North Sea harbour of Wilhelmshaven.

Uniper, a subsidiary of Finnish utility Fortum, is developing an import terminal at Wilhelmshaven capable of converting green ammonia back into hydrogen, and also plans to build an electrolysis plant at the site to produce green H2 itself with a capacity of up to 1GW.

The company further wants to explore the possibility of directly connecting the plant to an offshore wind farm in the North Sea.

“The Wilhelmshaven site offers all the necessary preconditions for creating Germany’s first major hydrogen hub,” Uniper chief executive Klaus-Dieter Maubach said.

“Large-scale hydrogen production facilities are to be built here for the purpose of decarbonising steel production in Lower Saxony. We also want to develop a solution that will enable the faster integration of the new gigawatt offshore wind farm into the German power grid.”

The electrolyser and the entire downstream hydrogen infrastructure function as a shock absorber that if strong winds blow can store the energy expediently as hydrogen and make it transportable, Uniper explained.

The partners will also cooperate with other companies for the supply of Salzgitter through the evolving German hydrogen pipeline network and the development of cavern storage facilities.

“The secure and economically viable sourcing of green hydrogen is a fundamental prerequisite on our journey toward SALCOS – Salzgitter Low CO2-Steelmaking,” Salzgitter CEO Gunnar Groebler said.

“The cooperation with Uniper is another step on the way to leading this game-changing technical transformation to success, together with strong partners."

Salzgitter last month had already announced a strategic partnership with Orsted that includes the supply of offshore wind power and use of renewable hydrogen, with production of low-carbon steel that can be used in the components of Orsted’s wind farms at sea.