Hamburg, Germany, April 26, 2023. Green hydrogen is the oil of the 21st century, but more environmentally friendly. It can store energy, be temporarily stored itself, and enable large container ships to sail the oceans without carbon emissions. However, there is still insufficient capacity to produce this valuable element in large quantities, which is where hydrogen pioneer H-TEC SYSTEMS comes in. Under the umbrella of its parent company MAN Energy Solutions and the Volkswagen Group, the company is building a new production facility for PEM electrolysis stacks in Hamburg’s Victoria Park. The Stuttgart-based consulting company Drees & Sommer SE is supporting the electrolyzer manufacturer with the conceptual design of a factory tailored to its needs, and creating state-of-the-art working environments for its employees. The construction project begins with today’s groundbreaking, and the first PEM electrolysis stacks are due to come off the production line at the beginning of next year.
These high-performance systems will produce hydrogen, which is in high demand as a climate-friendly energy source, especially in industry and the transport sector. ‘We expect the production capacity for green hydrogen to grow to five gigawatts per year by 2025. We are seeing an increasingly large investment volume in various sectors. Until just a few years ago the full potential was not recognized, but green hydrogen has now become a key technology for the energy transition and the decarbonization of the industry,’ explains Werner Schwarz, Vice President Operations Stack and Location Head at H-TEC SYSTEMS in Hamburg.
Transformation towards Carbon Neutrality
Policymakers are also backing the expansion of the hydrogen economy. In the National Hydrogen Strategy enacted in June 2020, the German Federal Government agreed to a billion-euro program to promote it. An important component of the strategy is sector coupling. The idea is that interconnecting the energy-consuming sectors – industry, heat supply and transport/mobility – with the energy sector will lead to the optimum use of renewable energies and minimize carbon emissions. Green hydrogen has a crucial role in this. For instance, the surplus energy produced by wind and sun can be converted into hydrogen. This is then used to power fuel-cell vehicles and combined heat and power plants. In industry, green hydrogen can also be used for decarbonization, for example in almost climate-neutral steel manufacturing by direct reduction. ‘Our aim is to support the transition of all sectors to carbon neutrality. We want to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by one percent with our electrolyzers alone’ explains Jens Werner Schwarz.
Good Planning is Key to Successful Construction
To ensure that the new factory can go into operation as quickly as possible and without a hitch, H-TEC SYSTEMS brought on board a team of experts in building and factory design. According to Martin Keim, Senior Project Head at Drees & Sommer, the construction project entails special requirements: ‘We identified the user needs together in workshops, and from these we worked out the building and infrastructure requirements. The production process had to be scaled and optimized for the new location. Its proximity to a residential area presented a particular challenge. The functions had to be arranged on the site in a way that ensured the high noise control requirements were met.’
Cleverly Designed Working Environments to Meet all Needs
The Drees & Sommer team enlisted the help of the users not only to develop the manufacturing environment, but also to participate in the design of the working environments. Several workshops are held to work out the ideal working environment for the office employees. The aim is to create an environment that promotes productivity, but equally one that encourages a community spirit. To do this, different needs have to be taken into account: A staff member holding video conferences or working with various teams needs a different environment from someone concentrating on writing or making a phone call. The results of the workshops therefore influence not only the furnishings, but the entire interior design. The design language developed in this way – colors, shapes and materials – will later be used in all H-TEC buildings and influence the brand representation.