With SICK emissions monitoring equipment at Germany's first liquefied natural gas terminal

Apr 27, 2023

The events of 2022 sent shock waves through the energy market. All of a sudden, liquefied natural gas has become a hot topic in Germany‚ too. The system for measuring flue gas at Germany’s first LNG terminal in Wilhelmshaven is made by SICK.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Since mid-December 2022, Germany has been operating its own liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the form of the Höegh Esperanza, a ship docked in Wilhelmshaven. It is due to feed around five billion cubic meters of natural gas into the German gas grid every year. That amounts to roughly 6% of gas demand in Germany. The federal government organized the Floating Storage & Regasification Unit (FSRU) within a very short space of time as a means of rapidly reducing Germany’s dependence on single sources of energy, especially Russian gas. The Höegh Esperanza has been chartered for ten years to regasify the natural gas that is liquefied at –163 degrees Celsius for transportation on tankers. On board the FSRU, steam is generated and used to heat the liquefied gas. Once it has reverted to its gaseous state, it is routed to the gas metering station, where it undergoes fiscal metering before being passed to the operator of the gas grid. The fact that SICK equipment is used for the fiscal metering of the gas delivered by the Höegh Esperanza will come as little surprise.

What is special about Germany’s first FSRU is that the emissions released by the regasification process are likewise measured with SICK technology. “We have developed an entirely new technical system for this special application, which had not previously existed in this form,” explains Markus Haas, Global Industry Manager for Energy & Outdoor Automation at the Global Industry Center for Process Automation at SICK AG. “In addition to the special requirements on explosion prevention, German federal emissions legislation for large combustion plants applies to the ship instead of the requirementsof the International Maritime Organization because it is in port for more than ten days.


Complex project with a large number of players

It is a challenging project, not only because of these requirements but also because of the multitude of international players involved, from the shipyard and the vessel’s owner to the authorities and various SICK offices in place such as South Korea, Japan and Norway. “This international approach and the coordination involved made the project extremely dynamic and complex,” says Anette Schultis, Head of International Project Expertise at the Global Industry Center for Process Automation at SICK AG. Then there was the intense time pressure. Owing to the tricky situation surrounding the supply of gas, everything had to happen very quickly, as we will all doubtlessly be aware. “The system was commissioned in 2022. The installation of the flanges and other preparatory work took place in October 2022 while the Höegh Esper-anza was docked in Brest. The emissions measurement system is due to enter operations in May 2023,” says Schulti.

The Höegh Esperanza in Wilhelmshaven is Germany's first own liquified natural gas terminal.
The Höegh Esperanza in Wilhelmshaven is Germany's first own liquified natural gas terminal.

The fact that SICK was in the right place at the right time was helped by the company having previously been in contact with Uniper, the operator of the terminal. The first inquiries about emissions monitoring equipment for flue gases at liquefied natural gas terminals were made back in 2016. In 2019, SICK worked with the boiler manufacturer, engine manufacturer and emissions experts from SICK to draw up a plan for monitoring eight sampling sites on board an FSRU in accordance with emissions regulations.


When SICK received Uniper’s inquiry for the Höegh Esperanza in spring 2022, these plans worked to its advantage, even though the ship naturally had completely different technical specifications. “This preliminary work, our expertise and the fact that we have a suitable product in the MCS200HW all lent us the momentum needed to deliver our solution in good time,” says Haas. The SICK emissions monitoring system will go into operation on the Hough Esperanza in May 2023 following the transition period for emissions monitoring.

Preparing for green gas

Although in the case of the Höegh Esperanza, a supply of natural gas was set up on short notice and a clean means of controlling emissions was implemented, LNG is still regarded as a transitional fuel as far as climate change mitigation is concerned. Consequently, it is to be ensured in the future that FSRUs are suitable for zero-carbon energy generation; for example, by regasifying liquid ammonia. SICK would not be SICK if the team had not already factored that into its solution. “The system requires only minor modifications to be used for ammonia further down the line,” says Haas. This is an important aspect that makes the emissions monitoring system for the Höegh Esperanza a key project that will be very significant in showing what the way ahead will look like – and one with enormous potential. Additional FSRUs are planned for Germany, for example, in Lubmin, Stade and Brunsbüttel.






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