French oil and gas giant TotalEnergies has announced a partnership with German gas distributor VNG to utilise green hydrogen in its refining process.

The deal will see VNG provide TotalEnergies with green hydrogen for use in its oil refining activities at the Leuna refinery in Germany.

The green hydrogen will come from VNG’s Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park project in Saxony-Anhalt, the same state as Leuna. VNG and its partner Uniper will build the 30MW electrolyser at the facility to create green hydrogen for the deal, which will be connected to the Leuna refinery by pipeline.

Trial operation of the hydrogen connection will take place at the beginning of 2025, with full-on transport of green hydrogen expected for later that year.

This project is in line with TotalEnergies’ ambition to decarbonise all hydrogen used in its European refineries by 2030. “Our ambition is to replace the grey hydrogen with low-carbon hydrogen, representing a reduction of three million tons of CO₂ per year by 2030,” said Jean-Marc Durand, senior vice-president of refining base chemicals in Europe for TotalEnergies.

Although TotalEnergies does use hydrogen in its refining operations across Europe, currently much of this is grey hydrogen. While grey hydrogen is created by treating natural gas,  a process which produces CO₂ as a by-product, green hydrogen is formed by electrolysers powered by renewable energy.

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The announcement on Wednesday came the same day as VNG confirmed that the Bad Lauchstädt Energy Park, the hydrogen project that will power Leune, has reached the implementation phase. TotalEnergies was the first “anchor customer” attracted to the project. The project will power its electrolytic capacity with renewable electricity sourced from wind power. The green hydrogen will also be stored in a salt cavern before being sent across Germany in repurposed gas pipelines.