10.2022 - 07.2023

Hydrogen study for the Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar

On behalf of Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar GmbH and Staatliche Rhein-Neckar-Hafengesellschaft mbH, FfE is conducting the hydrogen study for the Rhine-Neckar metropolitan region as part of the H2Rivers project. The aim of the project is to investigate the extent of a future hydrogen infrastructure in the Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar. In addition to determining the demand, the production potential and the infrastructure, an economic assessment of future production costs locally and for imports is being considered.

Motivation & Objectives

The successful implementation of the energy transition is the basis for averting the looming climate crisis. In addition to the ambitious expansion of renewable energies, the next few years will see an increased focus on replacing fossil fuels in industry, transport and heat supply with climate-neutral energy sources. Hydrogen from renewable energies can be one of the central links here and at the same time offer a high value-added potential.

As an objective of the project, FfE is investigating the prerequisites for establishing a hydrogen infrastructure in the Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar and the quantities required to supply the region with hydrogen. In the process, the sensible use of hydrogen in the industrial and transport sectors as well as conversion is being considered on the basis of scientific studies.

The project goals are divided into four work packages:

  • Determination of hydrogen requirements in the industrial, transport and conversion sectors and identification of the largest sites in the Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar.
  • Calculation of the potential for green hydrogen in the Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar based on the future surplus production of renewable energies.
  • Development of three supply concepts to cover the identified hydrogen demand, taking into account different approaches for pipeline-based import and import via inland navigation to the ports of the Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar.
  • Carrying out a profitability analysis that estimates local hydrogen production costs and import costs.


With the help of a scenario process developed at FfE, a moderate hydrogen scenario for the Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar is being developed in cooperation with the clients. First, an initial basic framework for the scenario will be built on the basis of existing project experience and scientific meta-studies. In doing so, the narrative and the parameterisation are to be designed as close to practice as possible, based on FfE’s many years of experience. Subsequently, the client has to put the assumptions to the test in a joint discourse and substantiate them with expert opinions from the region.

On the basis of the scenario, the transformation tools developed at FfE are used to calculate the projection of final energy consumption by energy source in the industry, transport and conversion sectors. In the next step, the regionalisation logic of the FfE allows the energy and material hydrogen demand for the consumers considered in the project to be calculated on a site-specific basis up to 2045.

To determine the hydrogen production potential in the Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar, the district-specific renewable energy potentials for the base years up to 2045 are determined on the basis of an existing study by Fraunhofer ISE. With the help of the district-specific electricity demand of all sectors, the theoretical electricity surplus for the production of hydrogen through local electrolysis can then be calculated. In this project, some simplifications are made, so that the potentials can be put into the right context.

The import requirements for hydrogen and its derivatives are determined from the site-specific hydrogen requirements and the district-specific production potential. This can then be used to draw up a supply concept. For this purpose, the existing pipeline infrastructure for gas, the road infrastructure and the ports in the Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar are modelled and a schematic concept is built up based on technical restrictions of the transport options pipeline, trailer and ship.

Finally, the production costs for hydrogen and its derivatives in the Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar from various countries around the world can be calculated from the transport routes and quantities as well as economic factors. A model developed by FfE is used to calculate the worldwide production costs for hydrogen.


The H2 demand study shows that large quantities of hydrogen derivatives are already used in the chemical industry in the metropolitan region. This demand, which is currently based on conventional energy sources, must be replaced by CO2-neutral energy sources in the future, regardless of the generation method. In addition, hydrogen demand in the industrial, transport and conversion sectors will continue to increase until 2045. The challenge is to secure these quantities through import or regional production. Figure 1 shows the development of the energetic hydrogen demand in industry.

Figure 1: Area-specific industrial demand for hydrogen for energy use (locations without district map of the chemical industry in Ludwigshafen)

The metropolitan region has an above-average demand for hydrogen and plays an important role in Germany due to its large chemical industry. A pipeline infrastructure is crucial to ensure a continuous supply of hydrogen. For decentralised consumers with low demand, both self-production and trailer deliveries are an option. The use of the existing natural gas distribution network for hydrogen depends on its development and rededication. The European Hydrogen Backbone is the first step towards a hydrogen infrastructure at transmission level and is the central supply element in Figure 2. Inland ports can serve as hydrogen importers before being connected to the European Hydrogen Backbone and then as depots and transhipment points for trailer deliveries. In this context, the possible future role of the Mannheim port company in the context of the hydrogen infrastructure is examined in detail in an excursus.

Figure 2: Supply option for the year 2040 with a focus on supply via the European Hydrogen Backbone

The expansion of renewable energies is crucial for the transformation of our energy system and can contribute to supplying decentralised consumers without a grid connection with hydrogen. Overall, it appears that Germany and the region can become largely climate-neutral by 2045, with hydrogen playing an important role in various sectors. However, the transformation requires considerable effort, and the longer it takes, the higher the costs for industry and society.