Germany outlines scale of hydrogen ambitions

In a move which will be closely followed by the energy (re)insurance sector, Germany has set out a wide-ranging plan for its future use of hydrogen.

Germany’s core network for hydrogen fuel will extend over 9,700 km (6,000 miles) and cost around 20 billion euros ($21 billion) by 2032, the chairman of transmission system operator FNB Gas said on Tuesday, as Berlin bets on the fuel for decarbonisation.

Existing natural gas pipelines will make up 60% of the network, connecting ports, industry, storage facilities and power plants, FNB Gas Chairman Thomas Goessmann told a news conference presenting the network’s plans with Economy Minister Robert Habeck. 

Germany is seeking to expand reliance on hydrogen as a future energy source to cut greenhouse emissions for highly polluting industrial sectors that cannot be electrified, such as steel and chemicals, and cut dependency on imported fossil fuel.

In July, the German cabinet approved a new hydrogen strategy, setting guidelines for hydrogen production, transport infrastructure and market plans.

The hydrogen network, which will run through all federal states, is a core part of that infrastructure and drilling will start next year, Goessmann added.

“We all know that we have no time to lose and that the first hydrogen must flow as early as 2025 … The excavators have to roll next year,” he said.

In expectation of an acceleration in future demand for the green fuel, the network will be about three time larger than the expected demand in 2030 of some 100 terawatt hours, around a tenth of Germany’s annual gas consumption in the years before the 2022 energy crisis.