US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Interview with Michał Kędzierski, an employee of the Warsaw Center for Oriental Studies, specializing in energy and climate policy in Germany.
Biznes Alert: What is the significance of the increased use of hydrogen in the context of reducing Germany’s dependence on fossil fuel?
Michal Kendzerski: The use of hydrogen instead of fossil fuels for the purpose of decarbonizing the economy should, as intended, reduce Germany’s demand for coal, gas and oil, which the Germans mainly have to import. In this context, it is important whether Berlin plans to rely solely on “green” hydrogen, which is obtained by electrolysis, or also, for example, “blue”, which is obtained from gas using carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technologies .
It is believed that only “green” corresponds to a long-term strategy of balanced development. In turn, the use of “blue” can increase gas demand in Germany in the medium term. It should be noted that if the Germans decide to support hydrogen, they will not gain freedom from imports. The needs are projected to be so great that they will have to buy gas abroad. This applies to both “blue” and “green” hydrogen.
– How does the German hydrogen strategy relate to the Nord Stream 2 project?
“Here we come back to the question of whether hydrogen from natural gas will be included in it.” If so, a new field will appear for energy cooperation between Germany and the countries of which it supplies blue fuel, primarily Norway and Russia. Interest in new opportunities for German-Russian interaction was expressed in February by the Minister of Economics and Energy of Germany Peter Altmaier and Deputy Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation Pavel Sorokin. The Russian confirmed that Nord Stream 2 can be used to supply hydrogen, specifying that the existing infrastructure allows transporting a mixture containing 5-7% of this gas. Altmayer, in turn, tried to fit German-Russian hydrogen-based cooperation into the EU’s climate policy.
– How will the political context and the struggle for the voices of Christian democrats and greens affect Berlin’s approach to the use of hydrogen?
– The hydrogen strategy has been the subject of inter-agency consultations since the end of January this year, and delays in its approval are the result of disputes between the ministries. In some aspects, a split has emerged even within the coalition parties. While the Ministry of Economy and Energy (CDU) advocates the use of “blue” hydrogen, the Ministry of Education and Research (CDU), as well as the Ministry of Environmental Protection (SPD) call for betting on “green” hydrogen.
In a discussion about the total capacity of electrolytic cells that Germany should achieve by 2030, the Ministry of Education and Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz advocate for the bolder, and the Ministry of Economics and Energy, as well as the environment, for more modest goals . The latter fear that a too rapid increase in the capacity of electrolyzers will slow down the increase in capacity in the field of energy obtained from renewable sources. The position of the Greens seems to be closest to that of the Minister of the Environment, Svenja Schulze, but their party does not play a leading role in this discussion.
– What influence does Germany have on the approach to hydrogen within the EU?
– The German hydrogen strategy is planned to be approved on May 20 or 27. Berlin wants to make the hydrogen issue one of the priorities of its EU presidency in the second half of this year. Germany may begin to promote, for example, ideas for the development of a European hydrogen strategy, the creation of a common system for the classification (origin) of hydrogen and plans to expand the use of “green” hydrogen in Europe. The topic of EU cooperation in the field of energy with Africa, which has favorable conditions for the production of green hydrogen, will also be discussed. Germany wants to establish cooperation primarily with the countries of North and West Africa. The creation of a European financial and legal framework that serves the development of a hydrogen economy is called, according to the idea of Berlin.
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