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Into the future with hydrogen

The National Hydrogen Council presents strategy

02. November 2021

As early as June 2020, the Federal Cabinet sent a signal for a more sustainable future with the publication of the National Hydrogen Strategy (NWS) and the accompanying establishment of the National Hydrogen Council (NWR). In July 2021, two further groundbreaking papers were published: the Hydrogen Action Plan Germany 2021 - 2025 and the Hydrogen Transport Position Paper.

The Hydrogen Action Plan

The current publications of the National Hydrogen Council formulate ambitious goals and measures for action and provide companies with a framework to simplify future (investment) decisions.

The Action Plan contains 80 concrete proposals of the National Hydrogen Council for the new federal government from 2021 onwards, in order to take a pioneering role with Germany in the field of hydrogen. Short-term goals as well as goals until the end of the next legislative period in 2025 are formulated. The plan first describes the initial situation with climate protection goals, economic motivation, legal framework conditions and the hydrogen strategy already adopted. One focus is on the anticipated needs for industry, for the mobility sector and for energy supply, as well as on planned sources of supply and the necessary infrastructure. Important topics are also future legal and political framework conditions, which are relevant for mobility, heat, research and development, innovation and education, for example. Since the current and future production of hydrogen is not only becoming more important in Germany, but also on an international level, the publication specifically examines Germany's position in the international context with regard to production, classification and certification as well as infrastructure. Finally, the publication deals with the temporal dimensions of the Action Plan and sets out which foundations can already be laid today and which goals can be achieved in two to four years - based on concrete recommendations for action prioritised according to urgency for the efficient implementation of the National Hydrogen Strategy.

The report states that the supply of sufficient quantities of green hydrogen must be guaranteed by 2040. For the market ramp-up, however, the National Hydrogen Council also considers the use of blue hydrogen "as a bridge option" to be necessary, which does not meet with unqualified approval both within the Council and among the public.

The crux: transport

In all future developments, the transport of hydrogen is of elementary importance: only a functioning distribution network makes further steps such as the further development and ultimately the use of hydrogen possible. It connects consumers and producers and integrates the German hydrogen market into a European and international hydrogen network. For this reason, the National Hydrogen Council has published a position paper on hydrogen transport, which looks at storage options, the various transport options and their differences and advantages. Hydrogen can be transported by truck, train, ship or pipeline. For small quantities that do not have to travel long distances, lorries are the best option. Pipelines play the central role especially for national, regional and also local distribution. For global imports, on the other hand, ship transport is inevitably necessary. Overall, hydrogen transport via pipelines is the most economical option due to the higher transport efficiency, also because existing unused natural gas pipelines can be used for this purpose. In order to make them compatible with hydrogen, the entire pipelines do not have to be converted, because the materials used in the pipelines are basically compatible with both substances. Only the replacement of individual components, such as compressors or measuring systems, will be necessary. In addition, newly built hydrogen pipelines can supplement the existing network. Underground hydrogen storage facilities connected to the supra-regional transport network are to serve as seasonal storage facilities in the future, thus enabling a temporal decoupling of production and consumption.

The National Hydrogen Council, which was appointed on 10 June 2020 with the adoption of the National Hydrogen Strategy by the Federal Government, consists of 26 experts from industry, science and civil society.

The members have expertise in the areas of production, research and innovation, decarbonisation of industry, transport and buildings, infrastructure, international partnerships and climate and sustainability. The National Hydrogen Council and large parts of the political community agree: the energy transition will only succeed if all possibilities for decarbonisation are exhausted - and this undoubtedly includes the use of climate-neutral hydrogen in all consumption sectors.

The two publications of the National Hydrogen Council and other documents can be found at www.wasserstoffrat.de.

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