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Comment Sustainability

Project for Generating Green Hydrogen and Renewable Methanol Reaches Next Selection Stage for EU Funding

By Gerald Ondrey |

Wacker Chemie AG’s (Munich, Germany) project funding proposal to the European Union for building a production complex for green hydrogen and renewable methanol at its Burghausen site has reached the next selection stage. The funding application states that Wacker wants to build a 20-MW electrolysis plant with Linde GmbH (Munich, Germany) to generate hydrogen from water using renewable electricity. Further, the project includes a synthesis plant for processing the green hydrogen into renewable methanol, using carbon dioxide from existing production processes. The synthesis plant’s expected capacity is 15,000 metric tons per year. Hydrogen and methanol are both key starting materials for chemical products such as silicones. Compared with current production methods, the new processes could cut CO2 emissions by around 80%.

In total, some €100 million is planned for the project, which is named RHYME (renewable hydrogen and methanol) Bavaria. Wacker has submitted funding applications for RHYME Bavaria to both the European Union and Germany’s Ministry for the Environment. The requested support is in the high double-digit millions. Through its Innovation Fund, the EU has a budget of €10 billion to support innovative low-carbon technologies and processes in energy- intensive industries until 2030.

Wacker’s collaborative project has passed the EU’s preliminary selection stage, which assessed hundreds of project proposals. The two project partners are now preparing a full application for the second stage. If the funding is granted, construction could begin at the start of next year, with the plants potentially coming onstream before the end of 2024.

“Our project goal is to markedly cut the proportion of fossil raw material and fuel in chemical processes and products so that we narrow our carbon footprint even further. We are convinced that hydrogen is an essential component in decarbonization — whether as fuel, raw material or reducing agent. Since a plant complex of this kind is not economically viable at present, we clearly need financial support to realize this breakthrough project,” says Wacker CEO Rudolf Staudigl, referring to the funding applications.

The key to carbon-neutral production is industrial electrification, Staudigl continues, and it requires huge amounts of renewable electricity at internationally competitive prices of less than 4 cents per kilowatt-hour. “Obviously, a successful industrial-scale rollout of hydrogen technology won’t be possible without a reliable long-term basis for operating profitably,” Wacker’s CEO stresses.

Bavaria’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Hubert Aiwanger, welcomed the EU’s decision: “By planning to build the electrolyzer in Burghausen, Wacker Chemie AG is paving the way for a sustainable hydrogen economy in Bavaria’s chemical triangle. It’s a lighthouse project for Bavaria. And it will benefit Burghausen as an industrial location.”

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