FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany is gearing up to take the first steps in using carbon-free hydrogen fuel in the transportation sector, by gradually incorporating new energy sources as a boost to efforts to meet its climate targets.
The government is expected to pass a bill on the issue at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
The meeting agenda and the bill, both seen by Reuters, suggest the initial focus is on shifting existing pipelines carrying hydrogen made from fossil fuels to “green” hydrogen, which is made from wind and solar energy via electrolysis, and building a new green hydrogen pipeline.
It does not regulate the direct absorption of green hydrogen into the existing natural gas network, which is regulated by local monopolies.
Some operators of Germany’s 550,000 km long gas transport network have pushed for faster system integration, arguing this would increase green hydrogen use and help refinance their green hydrogen investment through network usage fees.
The draft explicitly calls the law a “provisional arrangement” that will allow a step-by-step approach to putting the country’s 9 billion euro ($ 10.89 billion) hydrogen strategy into practice.
The final integration of the gas and hydrogen network remains “a problem for many years,” he said.
The law must be passed by parliament as part of a series of energy initiatives the government wants to finalize before the summer holidays and general elections in September.
The government has prioritized green hydrogen which is relatively expensive for industries that are difficult to electrify, such as steel making and chemicals.
German industry consumes about 55 terawatt hour (TWh) of “gray” hydrogen made from fossil fuels each year, while all sectors, including home heating, use up to 1,000 TWh of natural gas.
Heating and transportation can get electricity faster, for example through geothermal pumps and private passenger cars that run on batteries.
Reporting by Markus Wacket and Vera Eckert, editing by Kirsten Donovan
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