03 Mar 2020, 14:13
Sören Amelang

German government divided over hydrogen strategy – report


German ministries continue to be divided over plans for a hydrogen economy, delaying publication of the country's highly anticipated strategy to lower emissions in high-energy sectors such as cement, steel and chemicals, reports Klaus Stratmann in Handelsblatt. The research ministry insists on a target for electrolysers with a capacity of 10 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, while the economy and environment ministries believe five gigawatts are sufficient according to the report. The government cabinet will likely agree on the strategy on 18 March, the last meeting before the start of the "Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue" on 24 March, where the government plans to showcase its progress in the Energiewende before 2,000 guests from around the globe, Stratmann writes.

German industry association BDI opposes ruling out the use of so-called "blue" hydrogen made with natural gas using controversial carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, according to the report. BDI argues that insisting on "green" hydrogen made with renewables would delay technology development for years given that sufficient volumes won't be available by 2030. It also insists on an interim 2025 target for electrolysis capacity, and a 2035 target for green hydrogen imports to create more investment planning security. Because Germany will not have the enormous renewable capacities required to make large quantities of green hydrogen, it will probably have to import much of the CO2-neutral fuel from other countries.

Stressing hydrogen technology’s importance for a successful energy transition, effective climate action and the future of German industry, the government has called for the country to secure a global leadership role in the sector. Germany aims to be climate-neutral by 2050 and will have to replace natural gas in its energy mix with hydrogen, which could eventually become carbon-free if made with renewable power using electrolysis. Germany's steel and chemical industries are also betting heavily on the use of green hydrogen in their long-term decarbonisation plans.

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