15 Apr 2024, 12:36
Julian Wettengel

German parliament paves way for construction of hydrogen “core grid”

Der Spiegel / Clean Energy Wire

The German parliament (Bundestag) has given the green light for the construction of a 9,700-kilometre pipeline network to transport hydrogen across the country and to its neighbours, Der Spiegel reported. Lawmakers passed the legal changes necessary to create the network, which is to connect key hydrogen supply locations with demand centres step by step until 2032 (or 2037, according to other projections). The law sets rules for how the grid should be financed. This would happen entirely by the private sector via grid fees – which operators collect from customers. The grid fees would be capped to prevent very high fees from hindering the ramp-up of hydrogen in the first few years of grid expansion, said the economy ministry.

Hydrogen produced with renewables 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. Grid operators last year presented their vision for a European Hydrogen Backbone as part of efforts to transform the continent’s energy system towards climate neutrality. Today's German law reform sets a reliable framework for the financing of the hydrogen core grid and further network planning, economy minister Robert Habeck said. "Hydrogen is of paramount importance, especially in order to decisively advance the decarbonisation of industry and accelerate the energy transition in Germany," he said. This required an efficient hydrogen transport infrastructure.

Germany will introduce joint bi-annual grid planning for both the natural gas and hydrogen networks, as much of the existing pipeline infrastructure could be repurposed. The law regulates the framework conditions for the procedure, including the comprehensive public consultation processes, the establishment of a coordination centre for the affected grid operators and the creation of a database, the economy ministry said.

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