The German federal elections are just around the corner - It's time to take a closer look at what the established parties have to say about their energy policy positions. We start our series with the hot topic facing the industry: hydrogen. The parties' views on hydrogen technology and the measures they intend to take to support its market maturity are revealed in their manifestos.
Everyone is in favour, except AfD
All parties address the issue of hydrogen in their current election manifestos. The overwhelming majority of them are in favour of expanding the hydrogen economy in Germany. They perceive the use of hydrogen as an important component for the decarbonisation of the economy and intend to establish it as the second pillar of the future energy system alongside electricity. There is consensus that the use of hydrogen is not viable everywhere, but only where electricity from renewable energies cannot be used directly. The AfD is the sole exception. They oppose promoting a hydrogen economy. Despite widespread unity, the election manifestos differ significantly from each other on a number of points.
Alliance 90/The GREENS: A green hydrogen strategy
Alliance 90/The GREENS want Germany to play a leading role in hydrogen production technologies and encourage their further development by means of "a comprehensive support programme for the creation of hydrogen production capacities in Germany". The guiding principle is to reach climate neutrality. As a consequence, the Greens are in favour of hydrogen that originates from renewable energies. The party manifesto states that this also applies to hydrogen imports and the expansion of the infrastructure.
Following this goal, the Greens' election manifesto addresses the problem of the current expansion brake and double burden on renewable energies. They envisage a change in the structure of the energy market to exploit renewable energy sources for the production of hydrogen.
The Greens are also in favour of a pan-European hydrogen strategy and international technology transfer to African countries. The party is closely aligned with the issue of global climate justice and meeting the 1.5 degree target.
CDU/CSU: Making Germany the No. 1 hydrogen country
Hydrogen is seen by the Union as a driver of growth, as a means of strengthening Germany as an industrial powerhouse, and as a new stimulus for European neighbourhood policy and the opening up of international markets. The overriding goal is to make Germany and Europe front-runners in the future sector of hydrogen.
Important milestones on the road to being trendsetters include the establishment of a comprehensive value chain for hydrogen production, the creation of large import capacities including the necessary infrastructure as well as the development of a European hydrogen network. The Christian Democrats define strengthening the national hydrogen agency, expanding the series production of electrolysers and fuel cells and establishing hydrogen technology and innovation centres for this purpose as priority measures. The CDU and CSU are also striving to create a market framework for climate-neutral gases in Europe, to upgrade pipelines and to further develop the "H2 Global" funding concept.
The Union's manifesto emphasises the possibility of decarbonising industry and freight and shipping transport with CO2-neutral hydrogen. There is also clear support for producing hydrogen from renewable energies, albeit with the important restriction of "also accepting blue hydrogen in the transitional period".
The LEFT - Green hydrogen as a new pillar of the energy transition
The LEFT is in favour of the production and import of hydrogen, but only when it makes sense in terms of climate policy. The election manifesto states that two requirements must be met: first, hydrogen must only be produced using green electricity. Secondly, its production, transport and its use must emit fewer greenhouse gases than fossil alternatives.
Assuming that the above conditions are met, The LEFT wants to commit one billion euros each year to the development of an ecological hydrogen economy in Germany. If, however, the import of ecological hydrogen cannot be guaranteed, then the party advocates a ban on imports.
FDP - more momentum for hydrogen and a European Hydrogen Union
The Free Democrats strongly advocate pushing ahead with the roll-out of the hydrogen economy as quickly as possible. Speed and reasonable costs, however, are important key factors here. This is why the FDP is counting not only on green hydrogen from renewable energies but also on CO2-neutral "blue" and "turquoise" hydrogen from natural gas. The latter, however, would only be an option if the escape of methane during production and transport could be ruled out.
The Liberals are also concerned about Germany's dependence on energy imports according to their election manifesto. The problem: Germany imports approx. 70 per cent of its energy needs and will continue to depend on imports of energy sources in the future. The proposed solution of the FDP: a European Hydrogen Union. This would allow hydrogen projects to be realised at low-cost production sites, for example in southern Europe, and the necessary import infrastructure to be built.
SPD: Environmentally friendly hydrogen market by 2030
The SPD also plans to make Germany the leading market for hydrogen technologies. An environmentally friendly hydrogen market is to be created in Germany by 2030 under their leadership, which will enable the climate-neutral production of steel and propulsion systems for low-CO2 cars, trucks and shipping and aviation.
The SPD attaches particular importance to the decarbonisation of the transport sector. For instance, their election manifesto states that they want to "support mandatory usages such as the use of hydrogen-powered trains for non-electrified routes by 2030" and promote pilot projects "so that ships, planes and HGVs no longer emit climate-damaging CO2".
Our round-up highlights that the established parties want to promote the scalable use of hydrogen technologies, with the exception of the AfD. The largest differences involve the use of non-green hydrogen alternatives as well as imports and possible countries of origin.
Election manifestos: https://www.bundestagswahl-2021.de/wahlprogramme/ (German Only)