06 Oct 2020, 13:30
Alex Dziadosz

Germany says green hydrogen imports should not harm environment in partner countries

Clean Energy Wire

The German government says green hydrogen production projects with partner countries should not come at the expense of local environments, for instance by burdening the electricity or water supply. A large part of Germany’s future hydrogen supply will need to be imported, the federal government said in statement in response to a question from the Left Party’s parliamentary faction. The query focused on the environmental impact of hydrogen production, particularly given that much of the hydrogen energy will need to be imported, with Southern Europe, the Maghreb, West Africa and Chile listed as potential suppliers of "green hydrogen”. The Left Party pointed out that these areas are often arid or semi-arid, and many are already affected by water stress, which grow worse due to climate change. The production of green hydrogen could also require conventional seawater desalination, which can come with damaging effects to local marine ecosystems as brine resulting from the purification process is reverted to the sea.  

In response, the government said that hydrogen generation plants with a capacity of up to five gigawatts would be built in Germany, meaning 14 terawatt hours (TWh) of green hydrogen could be produced annually. But the total consumption of hydrogen would be between 90 and 110 TWh. To make up the difference, the government is financing hydrogen projects with partner countries, with a future package for hydrogen providing two billion euros for this purpose. The statement listed Morocco, Tunisia, Brazil, Chile and South Africa as potential suppliers. “As a rule, this will require the expansion of renewable energies in the partner countries,” it said.

Hydrogen is seen as a major building block for a climate-friendly future energy supply, but it requires splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, which uses a large amount of energy.

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