Under the motto “Pipe free for H2 ” , the gas network operators Nowega and OGE celebrated an important step on the way to the hydrogen age in Lower Saxony. For the first time in Germany , work began on converting a long-distance gas pipeline to transport hydrogen at the OGE compressor station in Emsbüren.
The highlight of the day was a symbolic push of a button: the guests gave the signal for OGE’s mobile compressor to start extracting natural gas. The gas is pumped from the Emsbüren-Bad Bentheim and Bad Bentheim-Legden pipeline sections to another pipeline section. This process takes approximately two days. Immediately afterwards, the approximately 46 km (29 miles) long pipeline sections will be separated from the natural gas network. The upgrade measures for the transport of hydrogen will then begin, which is expected to take place from 2025. The change will enable numerous customers from industry and medium-sized businesses to connect to the hydrogen supply in the future.
The line sections are part of the GET H2 Nukleus project and have been selected for funding as IPCEI (Important Project of Common European Interest). The Emsbüren-Bad Bentheim section belongs to OGE, the Bad Bentheim-Legden section is owned 50% each by OGE and Nowega. Another Nowega line, which runs from Lingen to Bad Bentheim, will be converted to hydrogen from November 2023, and Nowega began building a new line to close the gap in Lingen at the end of September. Both transmission system operators are part of the GET H2 initiative, the aim of which is to establish the core for a nationwide hydrogen infrastructure.
State Secretary Silke Krebs, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Protection and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, emphasized the nationwide importance of this change during her visit today:
“Hydrogen plays a crucial role on our path to the green transformation of our economy. These first 46 kilometers of hydrogen pipeline will lay the foundation for a powerful and efficient network of the future. It will be an important part of our future energy supply and will also help companies in North Rhine-Westphalia to align their energy strategy more closely with this technology, which is important for managing the transformation to climate neutrality.”
Quote from State Secretary Anka Dobslaw, Lower Saxony Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Climate Protection:
“Lower Saxony wants to become climate neutral by 2040 and be a leader in green hydrogen. To do this, we must convert our gas infrastructure to green gases. Today we are taking an important step together for the hydrogen network throughout Germany.”
“This conversion of a natural gas pipeline to hydrogen, the first in Germany, is a crucial piece of the puzzle for the energy transition and for the German hydrogen network. OGE is proud to be the first transmission system operator to take this step together with nowega,” said Dr. Thomas Hüwener, a member of the OGE management team.
Frank Heunemann, Managing Director of Nowega, added:
“Converting existing lines to hydrogen makes a quick and cost-efficient entry into the hydrogen economy possible. These projects show that the cooperation between the transmission system operators works and that we can build a powerful hydrogen network together.”
The mayor of Emsbüren, Markus Silies, also welcomed the project:
“The planned hydrogen infrastructure creates new development potential for the municipalities. In Emsbüren, the planned hydrogen pipeline runs along the Emslandpark industrial area at the A30/A31 motorway junction. By providing hydrogen in the future, we can strengthen existing operations in sustainable production. The hydrogen infrastructure is a clear location advantage, including when it comes to inquiries about new companies setting up shop and thus strengthens our region.”