German Government Embraces an Ambitious National Hydrogen Strategy, Doubling Domestic Development Goals by 2030
On July 26, a significant milestone was reached as the German government adopted an updated version of its National Hydrogen Strategy. This progressive move aims to strengthen Germany’s already prominent position in hydrogen technology and set it on a path towards greater success by 2030. The strategy entails a remarkable expansion of product offerings that encompass the entire value chain of hydrogen technology, including cutting-edge production methods like electrolyzers and diverse applications such as fuel cell technology.
The Strategy Provides Clarity on Future Hydrogen Production Capacity and Approach to Imports in 2030
Presently, Germany’s hydrogen demand stands at approximately 55 TWh. However, the revised strategy anticipates a substantial increase in demand, projecting it to reach 95 to 130 TWh by 2030. To meet this augmented demand, the strategy suggests that 50-70% of the hydrogen required would need to be imported, with applications spanning ammonia, methanol, synthetic fuels, and other derivatives. To bolster domestic production capabilities, the strategy sets a goal to double the production capacity of domestic electrolyzers, specifically aiming to achieve 10GW by 2030 (compared to the previous plan of 5GWh). This target corresponds to the deployment of 2,000 electrolyzers, each based on the calculation of 1,000 N㎡/h electrolyzers, equivalent to 5MW. Addressing imports, the strategy outlines the significance of strengthening collaboration with the European Union to harness the potential for hydrogen production in regions such as Southern Europe, the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Black Sea. Moreover, Germany commits to enhancing partnerships for hydrogen imports from third countries to the European Union through the European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB) initiative. The focus of this collaboration is to actively support developing nations and emerging economies seeking to establish hydrogen export markets.
The recently revised National Hydrogen Strategy marks a significant departure from its 2020 counterpart, displaying a far more assertive and ambitious approach. Particularly noteworthy is the doubling of the domestic hydrogen development plan, exemplifying Germany’s strong commitment to lead the way in the green transition among European nations. The Strategy, as a whole, aligns harmoniously with Europe’s broader vision to produce 10 million tons of renewable hydrogen and import an additional 10 million tons by the year 2030.
Developing Robust Domestic and International Hydrogen Infrastructure through Extensive Pipeline Networks
By 2027 and 2028, Germany aims to implement an initial hydrogen infrastructure network, encompassing over 1,800 kilometers of converted and new hydrogen pipelines. In the context of Europe, this translates to approximately 4,500 kilometers of additional hydrogen pipelines, representing a significant step towards a continent-wide hydrogen network.
In Germany, pipeline network operators are proposing the creation of a core hydrogen network, entailing the expansion of the existing conventional gas pipeline system to include dedicated gas and hydrogen pipelines. The details of this core hydrogen network are set to be finalized in 2024 and 2025.
Regarding the European hydrogen backbone network, Germany has been actively engaging in negotiations with partner countries to facilitate cross-border pipeline projects. These collaborations include co-production and distribution channels. Priority corridors for the European hydrogen backbone network encompass regions such as the North Sea and Baltic Sea, with further connections reaching out to North Africa through routes like France, Spain, and Portugal (H2Med), or via Austria and Italy (SouthH2Corridor).
Regarding infrastructure imports from third countries, the German government aims to construct dedicated terminals designed specifically for handling hydrogen and its derivatives. Furthermore, existing LNG receiving terminals will be adaptable to facilitate the importation of hydrogen or its derivatives. We firmly believe that infrastructure plays a pivotal role in the efficient storage and transportation of hydrogen and its derivatives. Additionally, the development of comprehensive pipeline networks, both domestically and internationally, is crucial in addressing the challenge of long-distance hydrogen transportation, which is beneficial to the numerous downstream applications.
Envisioning a Closed Loop of Hydrogen Industry through Thoughtful Downstream Planning
In the industrial sector, the country places a strong emphasis on tackling emissions from the steel and chemical industries while concurrently devising specific and long-term de-carbonization plans for energy-intensive sectors. In the transportation domain, Germany is committed to supporting hydrogen and fuel cell technology through various programs. Furthermore, the nation is actively developing an encompassing transition strategy for shipping hydrogen, operating within the framework of the National Action Plan for Climate-Friendly Shipping. Turning to the power sector, Germany has ambitious plans to construct 4.4GW of hydrogen and ammonia flexible power plants and other hydrogen-based power facilities between 2023 and 2026. In the realm of buildings and heating, Germany effectively utilizes the waste heat generated by electrolysers, optimizing energy usage. The country also continues to support the implementation of efficient fuel cell heating systems while exploring the potential expansion of ammonia’s application in heating. The strategy thoughtfully presents various scenarios for downstream hydrogen applications. Though these scenarios may not surpass expectations in their entirety, they pave the way for a resilient and sustainable hydrogen industry.