18 Mar 2020, 13:40
Sören Amelang

German government postpones hydrogen strategy, coal exit hearing

Clean Energy Wire / Handelsblatt / Energate

The German government has adjourned a decision on the country's highly anticipated strategy on how to boost the use of hydrogen to decarbonise industry and other sectors of the economy. Moreover, the timetable for translating the country's coal exit plans into law also looks shaky after a parliament hearing was adjourned due to precedence given to precautions against the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Germany, reports the energy sector publication energate.

A government spokesperson told the Clean Energy Wire the hydrogen strategy was not discussed at today's cabinet meeting as originally planned. The business daily Handelsblatt reported a working group has been tasked with finalising the strategy by Easter, if possible. "The ministries involved are also unable to reach agreement on crucial points," wrote Klaus Stratmann. There are still considerable disagreements over the electrolyser capacity needed to make "green" hydrogen with renewable electricity by 2030, and to what extent "blue" hydrogen made with natural gas using carbon capture and storage (CCS) should be used as a transitional technology, according to the report. Whereas the economy ministry's draft strategy said Germany should aim for electrolysers with a capacity of three to five gigawatts (GW) by 2030, the research ministry favours 10-15 GW.

The parliament hearing on the coal exit law planned on 25 March will also be postponed until after Easter at the earliest, Karsten Wiedemann reported  in energate. "This will likely delay the entire parliamentary process," Wiedemann wrote, adding that parliament is due to debate the law on 23 and 24 April, and that a vote in the Bundesrat, the federal council of states, is planned in mid-May.

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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