24 Apr 2023, 13:12
Carolina Kyllmann

Germany’s south faces hydrogen supply bottleneck as H2 economy takes shape – consultancy

Clean Energy Wire

As Germany’s hydrogen (H2) economy takes shape, a double supply gap is emerging in the country’s south, a report by consultancy PWC found. While the north is well positioned, the country’s south “will not be sufficiently connected to the European hydrogen network by 2030, nor will the region have enough photovoltaics or wind power plants to produce green hydrogen on site,” the authors of the Hydrogen Readiness Index found. They added that there are not enough power line connections to supply the region with green electricity from the north either. This is despite the fact that a significant share of industrial hydrogen demand is expected to come from the south. By 2030, hydrogen production in the country could increase to 30 GW, according to the report, with the majority (80%) of demand expected to come from the steel industry, semiconductor sector, oil refineries, and chemicals, ceramics and glass industries.

Large parts of Germany are to be supplied with a 5,100 km H2 pipeline network and current hydrogen projects – 120 in planning, under construction or already in operation – provide about five gigawatts (GW) of electrolysis capacity. However, the planned expansion of renewable energies (required to produce green hydrogen) is only sufficient for 20 percent of the targeted hydrogen expansion, according to the report. “Green electricity and green hydrogen will remain scarce in the coming years and significant hydrogen imports will not reach Germany until 2035,” report co-author and hydrogen expert at Strategy&, Dirk Niemeier, said.

In the effort to curb global greenhouse gas emissions, hydrogen made with renewable electricity is often seen as a panacea for sectors with particularly stubborn emissions, such as heavy industry or aviation. The government is currently working on an update to its national hydrogen strategy with higher targets and more information on future imports and the transport infrastructure. However, researchers are sceptical that Germany will be able to ramp up its hydrogen supply to the extent the government plans to.

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