The German cabinet has this morning agreed to double the national target for green hydrogen production by 2030 from 5GW to 10GW, in a long-awaited update of its H2 strategy.
The 10GW of electrolysers would produce about a million tonnes of green hydrogen annually, the equivalent of 26-35% of Germany's projected hydrogen demand in 2030 — about 33.33TWh out of the 95-130TWh total estimated by the German government.
“The remaining demand is covered by imports. A separate import strategy is being developed,” said the government in a press release.
“The aim [of the import strategy] will be to open up widely diversified import channels and avoid new dependencies,” explains the updated national strategy. “The import strategy forms the framework for action to ensure the required quantities of hydrogen overall and in the long term. It is an integral part of the [national hydrogen strategy].”
Germany has recently concluded a hydrogen import auction as part of its H2Global scheme, with the winners yet to be announced, while Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, who is also the minister for economic affairs and climate protection, has previously stated that the country will have to import 70% of its hydrogen.
“The market ramp-up of hydrogen, its derivatives and hydrogen application technologies will be significantly accelerated and the level of ambition along the entire value chain will be massively increased,” the government states.
“By 2030, hydrogen and its derivatives will be used in particular in industrial applications, in heavy commercial vehicles and increasingly in aviation and shipping.
“In the electricity sector, hydrogen contributes to energy security; through gas power plants that can be converted to climate-neutral gases (H2-ready) and through system-friendly electrolysers, in particular as variable and system-friendly stabilisers or flexible loads.”
The strategy explains: “In times of high electricity demand and low supply of electricity from renewable energies, hydrogen power plants can take on both a short-term and a seasonal balancing function, provided this cannot be provided by other more efficient flexibility options or storage.”
And it adds: “In the heating sector, no broad application is foreseen until 2030, but the conversion of gas distribution networks to hydrogen and the use of decentralised H2 boilers should also be legally and technically possible.”
The strategy also contains “many important transport measures, such as establishing a basic network of hydrogen filling stations, promoting renewable fuels and creating the necessary framework conditions”, explains transport minister Volker Wissing.
“A master plan for hydrogen and fuel cell technology in transport is being developed in order to promote the scaling of hydrogen and the fuels produced from it, fuel cell vehicles and fuel cell components and systems and the necessary infrastructure in a targeted manner,” says the updated strategy.
The government will also financially cover additional costs for emissions-intensive companies converting fossil-fuel equipment to hydrogen, in terms of both capital and operational expenditure, the strategy document says, without mentioning the roughly €50bn Carbon Contracts for Difference subsidy scheme the coalition announced last month.
“By 2030, Germany will be the leading provider of hydrogen technologies”, such as electrolysers and fuel cells, the document states. And the government statement adds that “Germany will be the leading provider of hydrogen technologies” such as electrolysers and fuel cells by 2030.
The coalition also reports that it will create “suitable framework conditions” for the build-out of green hydrogen, including “efficient planning and approval procedures, uniform standards and certification systems, and administration that is adequately equipped and coordinated at all levels”.
The initial national hydrogen strategy was unveiled in 2020, and the current government had agreed on an “ambitious update” in their coalition agreement.
“The National Hydrogen Strategy from 2020 is basically still valid, but is now being further developed with the update to the increased level of ambition in climate protection and the new challenges on the energy market,” says the government press release.
“The new National Hydrogen Strategy is a far-sighted step, both domestically and internationally,” said development minister Sveja Schulze. “The world market for hydrogen must be fair and therefore different than the fossil world economy ever was.
“Germany's message to our partner countries is: We not only want to import hydrogen reliably, we also want to help ensure that the new hydrogen supply chains also lead to good, sustainable development.”
She continued: “In concrete terms, this means that where wind and solar power is produced for hydrogen, the energy transition is being promoted locally and the local population is being supplied with electricity. And where seawater is desalinated for hydrogen, the nearest town is also supplied with drinking water.
“From a development perspective, one thing is clear: hydrogen from renewable energies is not only the best choice for the environment, as a cheap domestic source of energy, it also leads to better development in the Global South.”
Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, who is also the minister for economic affairs and climate protection, added: “By updating the national hydrogen strategy, we are setting the framework for the new phase in the ramp-up of the hydrogen market.
“Investing in hydrogen is an investment in our future, in climate protection, in skilled jobs and the security of energy supply.”