09 Apr 2020, 13:58
Sören Amelang

German strategy should not bet on hydrogen made with renewables alone – Uniper CEO

Tagesspiegel Background

Germany should not focus exclusively on "green hydrogen" made with renewable electricity in its highly anticipated strategy for creating a hydrogen economy, according to utility Uniper CEO Andreas Schierenbeck. "I would like to see a certain colour blindness regarding hydrogen," Schierenbeck told the energy newsletter Tagesspiegel Background. "By this I mean that apart from grey hydrogen, where CO2 is released during production, all other colours should be treated equally. I don't see a problem with decarbonising LNG [liquefied natural gas] or pipeline gas to produce hydrogen," said Schierenbeck, whose company is involved in the controversial gas Nord Stream 2 pipeline connecting Germany to Russia. Schierenbeck said the pipeline could run on 80 percent hydrogen.

The German government aims for global leadership in hydrogen technologies, which are considered crucial to make the economy carbon-neutral by 2050, the country's goal. The National Hydrogen Strategy is meant to lay the cornerstone for realising this ambition, but has been delayed partly because the ministries involved could not agree on targets for making green hydrogen, and on the extent to which "blue hydrogen" made with natural gas using controversial CCS should be used as a transitional technology. Agreement on the strategy is now expected after Easter.

While think tanks and opposition parliamentarians have criticised the German economy ministry’s draft strategy for including blue hydrogen, industry association BDI opposes ruling out its use, arguing that insisting on green hydrogen would delay technology development given that sufficient volumes won't be available by 2030. The economy ministry's February draft, seen by the Clean Energy Wire, said that while green hydrogen “is sustainable in the long term,” blue hydrogen “will have to play a role for economic reasons to quickly establish the technology in the market to decarbonise various areas of application.”

Schierenbeck also said the strategy should include support for specific projects and some kind of national hydrogen market. "We will need both. For example, there is nothing to be said against prescribing that a certain amount of hydrogen is needed in the gas network, i.e. a quota."

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