Hydrogen pilot plant goes into operation and expands the Energy Hub Neusiedl

The Parndorfer Platte is not only one of the windiest inland regions in Europe, it also offers optimal conditions in Neusiedl am See with a biomass heating plant including a district heating network for combining the energy sectors and thus for even more efficient use of resources. Two years ago, Burgenland Energie built a Power2heat plant that intelligently couples heat and renewable electricity. Within the framework of two research projects and with the lead participation of Forschung Burgenland, this existing plant is now being expanded to include a hydrogen pilot plant. The pilot plant will also convert renewable electricity into hydrogen and feed the resulting waste heat into the Power2heat plant. The plant will be put into operation in the next few days.

Successful project cooperation. In the picture from left: Marcus Keding (Managing Director of Research Burgenland), Bernd Vogl (Managing Director of the Climate and Energy Fund), Elisabeth Böhm (Mayor of Neusiedl am See), Leonhard Schneemann (Provincial Research Councilor), Klaus Maras (Managing Director of BE Energy GmbH), Mathias Schaffer (Chairman and Spokesman of the Board of Green Energy Lab).


Neusiedl am See, June 12, 2023 The hydrogen pilot plant in Neusiedl am See is an innovative step towards the implementation of the regional hydrogen strategy and sets new standards in this setting throughout Austria. Together with Bernd Vogl, Managing Director of the Climate and Energy Fund, Research Provincial Councillor Leonhard Schneemann, Klaus Maras, Managing Director of BE Energy GmbH and Green Energy Lab Association Board Member Mathias Schaffer, Marcus Keding, Managing Director of Research Burgenland, presented the new plant and the innovative project for it.

Vogl: “Want to achieve our climate targets by 2040”.

The Climate and Energy Fund promotes climate-effective projects and initiatives to advance the energy and mobility transition in a sustainable manner. “In doing so, we rely on working with model and showcase projects that demonstrate in very concrete terms how the new energy and mobility world based on renewable energy technologies works,” explains Bernd Vogl, Managing Director of the Climate and Energy Fund. With this project and these plants, Neusiedl is literally bringing a breath of fresh air into the regional energy system, Vogl continues: “But not only that. The project shows how electricity from renewable energy sources can be used for different purposes in Austria and how the energy future will work. If we want to achieve our climate targets by 2040, we need systemic changes like those already seen here in Neusiedl.”

Schneemann: “Burgenland pioneer in renewable energy”.

“The commissioning of the pilot plant marks a further step in the implementation of Burgenland’s climate and energy strategy. Because we have a comprehensive ‘roadmap’ for how this goal is to be achieved,” explains Leonhard Schneemann, the provincial council member responsible for research. Burgenland was already a pioneer in renewable energy in the 1990s. In the absence of fossil fuels, the first wind turbines were installed in Austria. Today, the company is also focusing on the massive expansion of photovoltaics. “The green transformation has therefore already been initiated in Burgenland. As a state government, we have set ourselves a clear goal: on the one hand, climate neutrality by 2030, and on the other, energy self-sufficiency. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, we need a joint effort by all stakeholders, an acceleration of procedures and the courage to do pioneering work. We must make full use of the potential offered by solar and wind power. This includes the possibility of producing ‘green hydrogen’. This pilot plant makes it possible to push ahead here. It is also a first step towards transferring summer energy surpluses into winter and a significant starting signal for the implementation of the hydrogen strategy in Burgenland,” says Schneemann.

Maras: “Important puzzle piece for the expansion of the Neusiedl energy node”.

For the managing director of BE Energy GmbH Klaus Maras, the hydrogen pilot plant represents an important piece of the puzzle for the expansion of the energy hub Neusiedl am See: “By intelligently linking wind power, district heating and hydrogen, the sector coupling plant creates a versatile and sustainable energy infrastructure that makes an important contribution to the decarbonization of Burgenland. Bringing renewable electricity available in Burgenland to a high degree into other energy sectors is a strategic goal of our company,” says Maras. He said that the existing facility could be used to gain valuable insights for implementing this strategy.

Keding: “Facility for demonstration and exploration”.

Burgenland has large amounts of renewable electricity. This creates great potential to support the decarbonization of other energy sectors such as heat and mobility. By interlocking the sectors, challenges around flexibility and storage capability of the electricity produced can be addressed. “Electricity must be consumed the second it is produced. When using electricity from the sun and wind, this raises the question of how the generated electricity can be used in the best possible way at the time it is generated. The targeted connection between the energy sectors can help here to open up options for the intermediate storage of renewable electricity,” explains Forschung Burgenland Managing Director Marcus Keding. In an energy system with a focus on solar and wind energy, as exists in Burgenland, hydrogen also offers the potential to compensate for seasonal fluctuations: “In order to be able to demonstrate and explore the interaction of an energy node in real operation, the existing plant was expanded to include the dimension of hydrogen.”

The hydrogen plant is a pilot scale plant, the hydrogen production is 1.8 Nm³/h (standard cubic meters per hour). “This produces waste heat at a temperature of 45°C, which can be used as a heat source for the heat pump system. The hydrogen is temporarily stored in gas cylinders – so-called cylinder bundles. From there, it can be converted back into electricity by means of the fuel cell during windless periods,” explains Keding. In addition, the plant – although only on a pilot scale – will be fully integrated into the control system of the energy node: “This guarantees that we can research the interaction and optimization in the energy node and test it for larger hydrogen plants.”

Successful project cooperation

Two projects, in which Forschung Burgenland plays a leading role, dock here: The smart city project “Hybrid DH Demo” was carried out in cooperation with the initiative “Green Energy Lab” and has made the city of Neusiedl a best practice example for resource-saving and sustainable energy management with the implementation “power2heat”, which has already won several awards.

The project was managed by 4ward Energy Research. Managing Director Alois Kraußler on the project progress: “The Hybrid DH Demo smart city project started 4 years ago and has now been successfully completed. For us as project management, there were of course also many hurdles and challenges: Here I would like to thank the Climate and Energy Fund as the funding body for making these ongoing adjustments possible.

The ERDF project “Sector Coupling for Renewables” is an infrastructure project and supports the acquisition of the hydrogen pilot plant. “What also makes this project unique are the partners and, above all, the funding bodies. National and EU funding have created synergies here in a good interplay and made it possible to acquire infrastructure where it makes sense. This enabled us to actually implement the project and have a demonstration plant on which we can conduct research,” says Marcus Keding.

Schaffer: “Must move quickly from research to implementation”.

Achieving climate neutrality in Austria by 2040 is also the declared goal of the Green Energy Lab, a research initiative for sustainable energy solutions and part of the Austrian innovation offensive “Vorzeigeregion Energie” of the Climate and Energy Fund. “In the fight against climate change, we need to move very quickly from research to implementation when it comes to sustainable energy solutions. The Green Energy Lab accelerates this process – from brainstorming and solution development to application and implementation. The use of surplus electricity from wind power for district heating in Neusiedl is a successful example, has proven itself in operation and makes a valuable contribution to reducing emissions,” says Mathias Schaffer, chairman and spokesman for the board of Green Energy Lab.