Anglo-Dutch supermajor Shell is teaming up with German energy company Uniper in a bid to accelerate the development of Europe’s hydrogen economy.

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Uniper revealed this week it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Shell Gas & Power Developments, which will see the pair explore joint opportunities to couple industrial and mobility demand with hydrogen supply, production and storage.

At the centre of the collaboration will be the exploration of a number of projects, including the necessary infrastructure for large-scale transport of hydrogen and carbon dioxide from the ports of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, and Wilhelmshaven, in Germany, to North Rhine Westphalia, Germany’s industrial heartland.

Among the projects to be considered will be Shell’s Rheinland refinery, where the supermajor this month started up what is said to be Europe's largest green hydrogen electrolyser — a 10-megawatt proton exchange membrane electrolyser.

Shell plans to boost the electrolyser to 100MW at a later stage as it looks to transform the existing refinery near Cologne into a state-of-the-art energy and chemicals park.

The partnership will also look to explore the supply of hydrogen from Uniper’s planned hydrogen production sites at Rotterdam and Wilhelmshaven to Shell’s Rheinland Energy and Chemicals Park.

Uniper added it intends to connect its power plant in Gelsenkirchen Scholven, in North Rhine-Westphalia, as well as "some large-scale customers", with its coastal hydrogen production plants.

”Our mission is to connect Uniper’s large scale hydrogen projects — e.g. in the Netherlands and in Northern Germany — with industrial customers to enable a decarbonisation of our economy," chief executive of Uniper Hydrogen, Axel Wietfeld, said.

“By way of hydrogen Uniper provides a CO2-free solution of how to transport the abundant renewable electricity from coastal regions and from offshore wind farms to the inland."

Developing Europe's hydrogen economy

While Shell and Uniper will initially assess the opportunity to develop potential synergies to accelerate existing projects in Germany and the Netherlands, they will also potentially expand the scope to other European countries as they look to develop the foundation of a new hydrogen economy in Europe.

“We’re excited to be working with Uniper to explore the opportunities to help deliver the required infrastructure to make a hydrogen economy a reality,” vice president of Shell Hydrogen, Paul Bogers, said.

“Collaborations like this one are necessary to accelerate the transition to hydrogen usage in both transport and industry and Shell is excited to be playing our part in driving this change.”

The agreement with Shell comes just days after Uniper announced an MoU with another oil and gas giant, Italy’s Eni.

Under that agreement, the companies will explore decarbonisation initiatives in North Wales and the partnership could eventually progress towards the production of green and blue hydrogen at Uniper’s Connah’s Quay facility in Flintshire.

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