‘Together: overcoming boundaries – transforming structures – creating knowledge’. This motto accompanies the ‘Region AachenPLUS’ network’s next steps on the path to becoming a hydrogen model region.

Excellent research institutes, committed local districts and municipalities, courageous early adopters as well as quality technology suppliers constitute good preconditions in the region for a successful ramp-up of the hydrogen economy. This was the conclusion of the hydrogen roadmap, compiled by Umlaut SE, BET und BBH Consulting. The roadmap was presented to the public in Energeticon in Alsdorf. The strategy was developed in close cooperation with regional players from local administration, science and business and it outlines a roadmap for implementing hydrogen technologies in the region.

The authors of the strategy propose, among other measures, advancing the expansion of renewable energies and, in addition to decentralized, local hydrogen generation, accelerating the connection to the hydrogen central network. Furthermore, needs should be bundled, for example in industry, and efforts should be made in joint infrastructure planning as well as joint procurement, e.g. fuel cell vehicles. Now is the time to connect the strengths of the players in the region, allowing the AachenPLUS regional association to become the perfect nucleus for an intra-regional H2 ecosystem and the link to the activities of our European neighbours.

Representatives of the regional association emphasized that next phase of the ramp-up of the hydrogen economy must begin with developing the strategy: “We want to maintain local added value and secure energy supply. We now have to enter the implementation phase. To achieve this, we must continue to cooperate closely on a regional level and further advance networking with our partners in neighbouring countries, Belgium and the Netherlands, along the Rhine and the research institutes in the region”, said Michael F. Bayer, Managing Director of the Aachen Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

Wolfgang Spelthahn, District Administrator of the Düren district, underlined that the region is now, as a HyExpert region, nationally visible as a hydrogen model region and emphasized that the implementation of projects in districts simultaneously advances the entire region: “In addition to our hydrogen mobility projects, we are working on developing our own hydrogen generation – our own hydrogen ecosystem. It’s more than a project purely for the Düren district – we are working with companies throughout the region. This demonstrates that entering the hydrogen economy provides added value in the region, for the region.”

Sibylle Keupen, Mayor of the city of Aachen, highlighted in her statement that the work must continue with the presentation of the strategy paper: “We want the AachenPLUS region to become a pioneer in developing and using hydrogen technologies. Our goal is to create a sustainable and innovative future in which we make an active contribution to climate protection. We will pool our strengths to carry out this groundbreaking objective.”

Aachen district councillor Dr. Tim Grüttemeier made it clear that the region has to continue to work together, particularly with regard to the infrastructures that must be built. “The strategy of addressing issues together in the region, such as developing hydrogen infrastructure, is the right one. Hydrogen provision is a team sport – single regional entities and companies quickly reach their limits”, according to Grüttemeier.

Stephan Pusch, councillor for the Heinsberg district, indicated that hydrogen represents an opportunity for the regional economy to position itself as a technology provider. “Projects like H2HS, with fully-integrated, decentralised hydrogen generation, interlinked with local green electricity generation, offer local companies the option of participating in the hydrogen boom. As a region, we must form the interplay between decentralized solutions and the building up of the pipeline infrastructure in order to guarantee security of supply to maintain the region as a business hub.”

Markus Ramers, councillor for the Euskirchen district, stressed the importance of expertise for the regional ramp-up of the hydrogen economy: “We, the regional authorities, chambers and companies, must work together to ensure workers in in the companies become qualified so we can implement hydrogen projects in our region.”

Jörg Mackeprang, Head of Planning, Structural change, Transport and the Environment for Kolpingstadt Kerpen, emphasized the potential improvement in people’s quality of life due to zero-emission hydrogen mobility for local public transport and heavy-duty freight transport and was satisfied with the good cross-regional cooperation in the HyExperts project: “Together, we are progressing in the hydrogen sector in the Rhine area and strengthening our region.”

The HyExperts network: ‘AachenPLUS region’ comprises the Aachen hydrogen hub and the city of Kerpen. It is supported by the ‘HyCologne’ network and AGIT mbH. The ‘HyLand – hydrogen regions in Germany‘ competition was launched in 2019. The goal of the competition is to identify and promote the most innovative and promising regional concepts for the use of hydrogen in mobility.

The development of the AachenPLUS region as a hydrogen region was funded by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport under the National Innovation Programme for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP2) in the total amount of 400,000 euros. The funding guideline was coordinated by NOW GmbH and implemented by Project Management Jülich (PtJ).