25 May 2023, 14:01
Sören Amelang

German government agrees to build “core” hydrogen grid

Clean Energy Wire / dpa

The German government has agreed rules to build an initial “core” hydrogen network that is set to enter operation by 2032. "Our goal is the rapid ramp-up of the hydrogen market," said economy and climate minister Robert Habeck. Operators of long-distance gas grids are to draw up the core grid in the coming months. This will be followed by consultations with the public, Germany’s states, and various market players. The head of German grid agency BNetzA, Klaus Müller, welcomed the cabinet decision, according to a report by newswire dpa. "This is the very decisive prerequisite so we can rely on where the hydrogen will come from, how it will be transported across Germany, and where it can be used," Müller said. He added that companies needed clarity to invest. "We are not making any progress, we are going in circles. That has been going on for long enough."

Gas transmission grid association FNB Gas called the agreement “a central step” for the development of a Germany-wide hydrogen infrastructure, which should provide market participants with planning and investment security. “We will now work on this at full speed so that the realisation of an efficient and expandable core network can begin this year,” explained managing director Barbara Fischer. The association added that the decision also addressed initial questions regarding financing of the core network. However, it added that Germany also needed to have a model in place to secure capital from financial markets to enable network operators to handle advance financing of the network.

Renewable hydrogen is considered key for the decarbonisation of sectors such as heavy industry and aviation, which cannot easily switch to direct use of electricity to lower emissions. Last year, grid operators presented their vision for a 'European Hydrogen Backbone' as part of the efforts to transform the continent’s energy system towards climate neutrality. The German government has also started talks with other neighbouring countries, for example on the possibility of a direct pipeline link to Norway, as well as connections to the Netherlands and Belgium.

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