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    Germany Sets up Hydrogen Council


Now the work of decarbonising must begin, says gas industry group Zukunft Erdgas, calling for the inclusion of other hydrogen production technologies.

by: William Powell

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Germany Sets up Hydrogen Council

The German government, which last week adopted a national hydrogen strategy, has set up a national hydrogen council (NHC) as its expert advisory body, the Finnish-owned utility Uniper said June 10. Its CEO Andreas Schierenbeck is one of the 26 council members, who will collectively advise and support the government in its hydrogen strategy in their twice-yearly meetings.

However, the German gas industry group Zukunft Erdgas (ZE), while welcoming the government's acceptance of the fact that full electrification was unworkable, said that the strategy's definition of hydrogen needed to be expanded to include blue and other types. Otherwise there will not be enough of it.

Schierenbeck however said the strategy was a "decisive step for the energy turnaround in Germany and Europe. Uniper is a pioneer in the field of hydrogen and knows the entire value chain from its own practical experience.... Industry, science and politics in Germany now have the unique opportunity to work together to make the hydrogen economy a fast and practical reality and to make Germany a frontrunner."

Uniper has introduced in March a 2035 decarbonisation strategy that entails quitting coal, expanding gas and developing hydrogen technology. Uniper sees hydrogen as "an essential element of the low-emission energy mix of the future, together with gas, renewables and hydroelectric power. Hydrogen is the key to decarbonising other major industries such as the steel and chemical industries. Where electricity from renewable energies cannot be used directly, hydrogen and its derivatives open up new possibilities for avoiding CO2."

He said that the energy transition "will only succeed as a joint effort by all players. I am convinced that we will increasingly see an interlinking of electricity, gas and hydrogen from the most diverse sources under the keyword Power-to-X, Hydrogen is the connecting element between the sectors and helps us as a society to avoid the billions of euros in damage caused in Germany alone by the destruction of the value of unused electricity from renewable energy sources."

ZE, of which Uniper is a member, said that the hydrogen strategy "marks a turning point in German energy policy. It shows that the federal government is abandoning the utopia of 'full electrification' and is instead taking a realistic path to the future. Hydrogen offers affordable climate protection for industries that are difficult to electrify," it said. 

ZE also welcomed support for hydrogen-compatible heating devices: "Funding for fuel cell heating, a key technology in the energy transition, is also to be expanded. This gives the approximately 20mn gas customers in Germany a perspective to participate in the energy transition themselves."

But ZE said that by only focusing on 'green' hydrogen – typically generated by electrolysis from renewable energy – the politics was failing: only by "an open technology approach can the large quantities of hydrogen that we will need in the future be produced at the best price. We therefore hope that this negligent narrowing to a production route will still be corrected. Otherwise Germany threatens to lose touch with hydrogen production."

ZE said the strategy could make Germany the European hydrogen hub. "Now the work really starts. The gas industry is ready to build an international market for hydrogen together with politicians and old and new energy partners."