The Northern German Living Lab (NRL) is an innovative joint project that aims to test new ways of achieving climate neutrality. To this end, production and living areas with particularly high energy consumption are being gradually defossilized and converted to renewable energy sources – especially in industry, but also in the heat supply and mobility sectors.
More than 50 partners from business, science and politics stand behind the Northern German Living Lab. They work closely together as an energy transition alliance: Together, the NRL partners want to create sustainable innovations, trigger economic impulses, and strengthen Northern Germany as an industrial location.
Eight electrolysers with a hydrogen generation capacity of more than 40 MW are operated in the Northern German Living Lab. They are used to replace fossil fuels in industrial processes with hydrogen or its derivatives. In addition, several projects are being implemented in the NRL that enable waste heat utilization in the amount of 700 GWh per year. In the mobility sector, several hydrogen filling stations and fuel cell vehicles are being tested in different usage scenarios.
The goal of the Northern German Living Lab is to test the transformation path for an integrated energy system that will succeed in reducing CO2 emissions in the north by 75 percent by 2035. The subprojects planned during this period of the NRL could save between 350,000 – 500,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year. The large-scale approach gives the project a supra-regional model role for hydrogen-based sector coupling in Germany and in Europe.
The major project will run for five years (04/2021-03/2026). The investment volume of the partners involved amounts to around 405 million euros. As part of the funding initiative “Reallabore der Energiewende” (Living Labs of the Energy Transition), the NRL is being funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) with around 55 million euros. Further funding is provided by the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport (BMDV).
The model region of the Northern German Living Lab comprises the federal states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, western Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Bremerhaven. The project bundles different sector coupling projects in geographical “hubs” that are oriented to the network topology of the electricity and gas grids. Hydrogen production centres are created at high-performance nodes in order to gradually decarbonize local consumption hotspots.