18 May 2020, 14:16
Sören Amelang

Merkel's coalition partner pushes for ambitious green hydrogen production

Clean Energy Wire

Germany should aim to build up large capacities of hydrogen production from renewables as part of its highly anticipated national strategy, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government coalition partner has urged. "We want to increase the electrolysis capacity of hydrogen with electricity from renewable energies to at least 10 gigawatts (GW) by 2030," said a paper by the Social Democrats' (SPD) parliamentary group, adding that: "In order to enable the economic operation of the electrolysers, they are also to receive financial support at least until the electrolysis capacity of 10 GW is reached." The paper also calls for prioritizing this so-called green hydrogen over ‘blue’ hydrogen made using controversial carbon capture and storage (CCS): "We reject both the promotion and the permanent use of hydrogen not produced from renewable energy sources, even in the high-consumption sectors."

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. Germany wants to become a global leader in "tomorrow's oil" and will flesh out its ambitions in a National Hydrogen Strategy, expected in the coming weeks. The strategy has been delayed for months because the ministries involved could not agree on targets for making green hydrogen, as well as controversy about the extent to which blue hydrogen should be used as a transitional technology.

A further contentious issue is the question of which sectors should be prioritized in the roll-out of a hydrogen infrastructure. Jochen Flasbarth, state secretary in the environment ministry and a social democrat, said subsidies should be limited to applications without other options to achieve carbon neutrality. "If the state uses tax money, it must have a good reason for doing so,” he told energy and climate newsletter Tagesspiegel Background. “That is why we should use green hydrogen in areas where we have no foreseeable alternatives, such as steel production, chemicals or kerosene.”

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