26 Nov 2019, 13:04
Sören Amelang

Renewable companies say grid operators' electrolysers monopolise hydrogen market

An alliance of renewable energy companies has warned that large-scale grid operator projects to make hydrogen with electricity could lead to monopolies, and mainly use coal power instead of green power. "The plans of grid operators Tennet and Amprion to set up and operate 100-megawatt class electrolysers on their networks together with gas network operators would prevent a fair and competitive hydrogen market" if they are financed by grid fees, argues the alliance of Enertrag, Greenpeace Energy, Naturwind and Nordgröön. They said the projects dubbed "Element Eins" (Tennet) and "Hybridge" (Amprion) could make hydrogen at lower prices than conventional competitors.

"The federal government and the federal grid agency must reject grid operator projects not only for competitive reasons," said Jörg Müller, Chairman of the Board of the Brandenburg-based renewable energy producer and electrolysis plant operator Enertrag. "The projects also violate European law, which expressly prohibits such grid operators from operating energy storage facilities such as electrolysers." The companies also warned the large-scale electrolysers would use mainly coal power to make hydrogen. "It would be absurd if subsidised, climate-damaging projects prevent the development of a free market for green hydrogen," said Greenpeace Energy's Sönke Tangermann.

Renewable hydrogen has recently become a hot topic for Germany's energy transition, because it is seen as the only option to decarbonise many fossil-intensive sectors such as steel, chemicals, shipping and aviation. But so far, the technology to make hydrogen using renewable electricity only exists in isolated pilot projects. Hydrogen forms the basis for making CO2-neutral synthetic gases and liquids that can replace fossil fuels.

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