A lighthouse for energy transition
Interview with Prof. Peter Wasserscheid, director of the new Institute for a Sustainable Hydrogen Economy (INW) since 1 November 2021.
The INW is to evolve into the innovative core of the “Helmholtz Cluster for a Sustainable and Infrastructure-Compatible Hydrogen Economy” (HC-H2), which was approved in 2021. The cluster is an important building block for turning the Rhineland region into a hydrogen model region with Europe-wide appeal in the course of structural change.
Mr Wasserscheid, you described yourself as an obstetrician when you took office. How’s the young hopeful doing?
We’re in the process of furnishing the children’s room. A large research landscape will be created in the Brainergy Park near Jülich, around which companies are expected to settle. Office containers, laboratory buildings and a technical centre hall will be erected by the time the INW moves into its new building, so that research can start as soon as possible. Plus, we’re looking for staff, both researchers and tradespeople. We also want to win municipalities, transport companies and other research institutions as partners.
Chemist Peter Wasserscheid is the director of the Helmholtz Institute Erlangen-Nürnberg for Renewable Energy (HI ERN), a Jülich branch founded in 2013. He has also held the Chair of Chemical Engineering I (Reactional Engineering) at Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg since 2003. For his research, he was awarded the Leibniz Prize of the German Research Foundation (2006) and received two Advanced Investigator Grants from the European Research Council (2010, 2018).
What are the benefits of the research cluster?
Firstly, it creates new jobs. 100 will be generated here alone by the end of the year; by 2025, there are to be 500 at INW. But there’s more to it than that: we want to build a beacon for energy transition, that is, enable a sustainable future with innovative hydrogen and energy technologies from the Rhineland region that are sold worldwide.
What technologies are we talking about specifically?
Technologies with which hydrogen can be transported and stored in large quantities and made available quickly, easily and cost-effectively. It’s about supplying filling stations for bus fleets with green hydrogen, for example, or supplying a glassworks that, in the future, is to work with hydrogen technology instead of CO2-emitting combustion technologies. With demonstrators, we want to show that our innovations can also function and be economical on an industrial scale.
When could the first demonstrators start?
By the end of 2022, we want to set up four demonstrators in the Rhineland region that will cover, straightaway, the entire spectrum of innovative hydrogen technologies. The provision of hydrogen for a stationary energy supply system and an application from the mobility sector will mark the starting point.
Christian Hohlfeld asked the questions.0
is provided by the federal government for the development of the HC-H2 from the funding for the structural change of the coal regions. North Rhine-Westphalia is also contributing state funds.
Vlog series on structural change in the Rhineland region
Part 6 – Green hydrogen: an opportunity for sustainable mobility and energy
Photo: Forschungszentrum Jülich/Sascha Kreklau Illustration: Bernd Struckmeyer,
Videos: Forschungszentrum Jülich