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Over the next five years the North German Real Laboratory will test a systemic approach to transform the region’s energy system – in Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein.

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A major trans-state initiative is underway in northern Germany, which brings together no less than 50 international partners, to push climate neutrality forwards in an integrated way across all sectors. The North German Real Laboratory (NRL) project, which was officially launched in April, is led by The Competence Centre for Renewable Energies and Energy Efficiency (CC4E) at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (HAW) and will test a systemic approach to transforming the region’s energy system – in Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein – over the next five years.

"We are all part of a global race for climate neutrality and against the dynamics of climate change," says Professor Werner Beba, head of CC4E and overall NRL project manager at the launch. "But it is also about an economic race, about technology leadership and pioneering climate-friendly production processes and products. As a collaborative project involving science, business and politics, the NRL is an important building block for the social and industrial transformation that is necessary for the goal of climate neutrality. The realisation of sector coupling and hydrogen on a large scale should enable rapid decarbonisation in our northern German region.”

The plan is to replace fossil fuels with CO2-free alternatives by focussing on two technology areas: green hydrogen and its multiple potential uses across a variety of fields including mobility and industry, and energy-efficient district power solutions, particularly heating. Commenting on Hamburg’s involvement, the city’s First Mayor Dr Peter Tschentscher said the NRL projects “show how the cross-sectoral switch to hydrogen can succeed and how modern, energy-efficient neighbourhoods can be created.”

The NRL is funded with total investments of EUR 300 million, around EUR 52 million of which have come from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy’s funding programme ‘Reallabore der Energiewende’.