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14 Jul 2023, 13:33
Sören Amelang

Germany plans hydrogen use for heating and mobility in strategy update – media report

Handelsblatt

The German government wants to use hydrogen for decarbonising road transport and heating, in addition to industry, according to a highly anticipated revamp of the national hydrogen strategy, which was leaked to business daily Handelsblatt. The ministries involved have agreed on a final draft, which is set to be approved this month by the cabinet, the article said. The strategy, first published in 2020, details the country’s plans for ramping up a “hydrogen economy,” which it considers central for reaching the national climate targets and for its ambition of becoming a global leader in associated technologies. In the new strategy, the government raises the 2030 target for domestic electrolyser capacity for making climate-neutral “green hydrogen” to “at least” 10 GW from an earlier 5 GW, and plans an initial pipeline grid spanning 1,800 kilometres by 2027-2028.

In the fight against climate change, hydrogen made with renewable electricity is increasingly seen as a silver bullet for sectors with particularly stubborn emissions, such as heavy industry and aviation. But use in road transport and heating is highly controversial, because it requires using much more energy than switching to electricity instead. The Greens-led economy and climate ministry wanted to limit the use of green hydrogen to industry, aviation, shipping and heavy-duty transport, as well as for operating back-up power plants, according to Handelsblatt. But the transport ministry, led by the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), insisted on a broad use in heating and transport – not only in hydrogen fuel cells, but also as synthetic fuels, which use hydrogen as a basis. Many experts and climate activists have called the use of hydrogen in heating and road transport an unrealistic “sham” solution favoured by the fossil fuel industry. Earlier this year, the FDP caused a Europe-wide outcry by blocking a phaseout of combustion engines and insisting on exceptions for e-fuels.

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