After a long wait, the Grand Coalition has finally put forward its strategy for hydrogen. Even though they have announced green hydrogen in there, they have so far failed to provide any plan for the integration of renewable energies and hydrogen that makes hydrogen clean and therefore promising for the future. Rather than considering hydrogen imports on a massive scale, it is important to exploit the existing potential on the domestic market first and launch the market for electrolysis technologies. To achieve this, the expansion of all renewable energies must be stepped up, as although energy consumption has temporarily fallen as a result of the Corona virus crisis, it will rise again in the long term. This demand must be met by renewable energies if climate targets are to be achieved. According to Bundesverband Erneuerbare Energie e.V. (BEE) calculations, we will be threatened by a huge green energy gap of 100 terawatt hours by 2030 because too little green energy is being produced and the gross energy consumptions assumptions are too low. The electrification of heat and transport and growing sector coupling is likely to increase the energy demand still further. Considerable adjustments need to be made to the expansion of renewable energies and the outstanding timetable submitted for the expansion of renewable energies submitted by 2030. This has to be accompanied by the requisite statutory requirements, such as a revised German Renewable Energy Sources Act, swifter approval procedures and land-use planning.
One further measure may be to allow the renewables-based plants that no longer qualify for the subsidies under the German Renewable Energy Sources Act to continue to operate viably. There is enormous potential to change to green hydrogen on the back of green energy production. The regulatory framework for this is needed now. In this way, it will be possible to generate green hydrogen at a reasonable cost to meet the needs of industry by as early as the start of 2021 and meet a portion of the 20&60;terawatt hours estimated by the German Federal government regionally. The import of green hydrogen that cannot be ruled out must be coupled with stringent sustainability criteria along the entire production and transport chain.
Exemption from the German Renewable Energies Sources Act levy and network charges makes sense for functioning business models in the generation of green hydrogen. Additionally, the use of hydrogen should focus on the areas in which the direct use of renewables is not possible, i.e. primarily in the industry sector, e.g. steel production, as hydrogen will always remain a precious commodity.
About the author:
Simone Peter has been president of the Bundesverband Erneuerbare Energie (BEE) e.V., the umbrella organisation for the renewable energies sector, since March 2018. The PhD biologist chaired BÜNDNIS 90/Green party from 2013 to 2018 and was Minister for the Environment, Energy and Transport in the Saarland from 2009 to 2012. Prior to that, she worked for the association of EUROSOLAR (2001-2004) and co-initiated the foundation of Agentur für Erneuerbare Energien in 2004, serving as its first managing director.