Today Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze, Brandenburg’s Minister-President Dietmar Woidke and State Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Jörg Steinbach signalled the start of the PtX Lab Lausitz. In an opening dialogue with leaders in research and industry, they discussed cooperative projects on developing power-to-X technologies (PtX). These produce first hydrogen and then other fuels (X) from electricity (power). This new centre of excellence is to become an international hub for green hydrogen and its derivatives. In future, scientists and entrepreneurs in Cottbus will jointly drive forward the development of PtX technologies. Under the Act on Structural Change in Coal-Mining Regions, up to 180 million euros will be available for the PtX Lab Lausitz and a demonstration plant.
Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze stated: "Green hydrogen and power-to-X are instrumental for a successful energy transition. Aeroplanes and ships need climate-friendly fuels, the chemicals industry needs environmentally sound base materials. In Germany we have the necessary expertise to put PtX technologies on the global market, and German companies want to become the world’s leading suppliers. The German government is supporting them with the PtX Lab Lausitz which will serve as a think tank, a platform for dialogue and a springboard for new projects. At the same time, this emerging PtX technology will help regions like Lausitz to develop new prospects as an industrial location. The phase-out of coal has meant major upheaval for many people in Brandenburg and Saxony. That is why I want to support Lausitz – and the mining districts of the Rhineland and Central Germany too – in maintaining their status as key energy regions in a climate-neutral Germany."
Brandenburg’s Minister-President Dietmar Woidke commented: "This amazing project is yet another piece of good news for Lausitz – for the region and above all for its people. Other positive developments include the Cottbus railway maintenance depot, providing 1,200 jobs in industry, and the Cottbus Medical School. The green hydrogen industry will play an important role in the energy transition, and we are therefore continuing our efforts to establish it in Brandenburg. We also anticipate that PtX will have significant positive effects for structural development in Lausitz. The PtX Lab Lausitz will bring high-quality jobs and help boost regional added value. I am sure that this centre of excellence and its demonstration plant will be a flagship for Lausitz and for Brandenburg as a whole. In addition, it will play a vital role in the success of the energy transition and climate action in Germany." Woidke thanked Minister Schulze for securing funding for the PtX Lab Lausitz. Brandenburg’s Energy Minister Jörg Steinbach noted: "Power-to-X technologies, which generate green hydrogen from renewable energies, are crucial for the success of the energy transition. Green hydrogen enables the electricity, heat, transport and industry sectors to be interlinked, and sector coupling is essential to step up climate action effectively. Such innovative technologies offer major opportunities for Brandenburg’s industry – namely new regional added value and jobs – the very things we urgently need for successful structural development in Lausitz." The minister further stressed that Brandenburg was an excellent partner for forward-looking projects: "As an energy state, we have the required expertise and well-established energy infrastructures. We are among Germany’s leading states in the generation of renewable energy per capita."
The PtX Lab Lausitz will create the technical bases for the environmentally sound generation and use of PtX technologies and will initiate cooperative projects. Expert dialogues are planned between researchers and business leaders to advance project development at the same table. Major technology enterprises will help innovative projects to move from the laboratory to practice. In order to make PtX understandable, a demonstration plant will be set up in Lausitz. The PtX Lab Lausitz aims to encourage stakeholders in Germany to network among themselves and with partners at European level and beyond. The cooperation with the Competence Centre for climate change mitigation in energy-intensive industries (KEI), based in Cottbus since 2019, will create important synergies. The executing agency for the PtX Lab Lausitz and KEI is ZUG gGmbH (Zukunkft – Umwelt – Gesellschaft), a federally owned company for the promotion of environmental protection, nature conservation and climate action.
Electricity-based fuels and base materials, also referred to as PtX (Power-to-X), will play a key role in climate change mitigation and the decarbonisation of industry in Germany and throughout the world. Where the direct use of electricity from renewables is not technically possible, green hydrogen and PtX products can make a decisive contribution to achieving the climate targets. For PtX technologies to be helpful in combating climate change it is essential to use electricity from renewable energies. The production and use of PtX-based fuels must have a positive climate footprint overall. That is why PtX technology plays an important role in modes of transport where, for technical reasons, the direct use of electricity is very limited in the long term. This is particularly the case for shipping and aviation. In road transport, the direct use of renewable electricity in electric vehicles is the more efficient climate-friendly option.
The Act on Structural Change in Coal Mining Regions, which entered into force in August 2020, implements the recommendations of the Commission on Growth, Structural Change and Employment. Under this law, the Federation grants financial support (up to 14 billion euros) for particularly important investments by the Länder and their municipalities until 2038, supplemented by further government measures totalling up to 26 billion euros. The Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) used this funding to establish the PtX Lab Lausitz, the Competence Centre for climate change mitigation in energy-intensive industries (KEI) and the Competence Centre for Electromagnetic Fields (KEMF) in Cottbus. The BMU will also set up a research and demonstration site for innovative water and wastewater technologies in Lausitz. In addition, on the initiative of the BMU, a National Centre for Biodiversity Monitoring and the environment and nature conservation data centre for Germany will be established in Leipzig. The BMU has also established a funding programme for all German lignite regions which supports municipal pilot projects to implement the ecological SDGs in regions of structural change (KoMoNa).