14 Sep 2023, 14:03
Julian Wettengel

Germany faces high costs, technical hurdles for ship-based imports of hydrogen-based fuels – report

Clean Energy Wire

Germany plans to use green hydrogen (H2) to decarbonise its industry, but the country faces high costs and technical hurdles when importing of hydrogen-based fuels via ships, according to a report by think tank Agora Energiewende and Hamburg University of Technology. The import of hydrogen made from renewables via pipeline from neighbouring regions represents the cheapest option at less than 1 euro per kilogram of H2 (€/kg H2), says the report. Maritime imports of derivates made with so-called ‘green hydrogen’ – such as ammonia or synthetic methane, for which CO2 is added to the hydrogen – come at a higher price of 2-5 €/kg H2. However, these fuels could also be burned directly, cutting out the need to extract the hydrogen again in Germany.

The report shows that the production of synthetic methane, ideally using CO2 captured directly from the air, brings a set of hurdles to overcome. For example, many of the technologies are not mature yet and will take a long time to implement, while other hydrogen import options could turn out to be much cheaper. There are also regulatory uncertainties regarding the global market of CO2, says the report.

Germany has decided that import infrastructure for liquefied natural gas (LNG), which companies have been setting up in reaction to the halt of pipeline gas from Russia, should be "hydrogen-ready". Projects like that of Tree Energy Solutions (TES)bet on synthetic methane flowing through its pipes at some point, because it means that Germany could continue to use the current natural gas infrastructure. In the report, Agora Energiewende warns that this approach could "slow down the conversion of methane grids to hydrogen."

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