Bavaria and Lower Austria together into hydrogen future

In order to improve research in the area of hydrogen technology, Bavaria and Lower Austria wish to collaborate more closely in the future. A deal was signed in Munich that should be advantageous to all parties.

There are numerous reasons to switch to renewable energies and use fewer fossil fuels, including climate change, gas shortages, and the energy crisis. The majority of energy sources used today are renewable ones like water, wind, and solar, which are either used immediately or maintained available through buffer and battery storage. Hydrogen has a benefit in terms of storage and transportation, especially when it is produced sustainably. But before fuel cell technology becomes widely used, there will be a long wait.

A visit to the BMW plant in Munich by a Lower Austrian team headed by Governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner (VP) revealed that the automaker has also relied on electric vehicles recently and has been actively investigating fuel cell technology for years. This year will see the construction of the first modest batch of hydrogen-powered vehicles. The management estimates that it will be “still in this decade” before the automobiles are actually put into series production.

“We have realized that battery electric vehicles are probably not going to be able to serve all of our customers. In recent years, we’ve introduced a lot of excellent battery-electric vehicles to the market. But as a second pillar, we are now creating hydrogen-electric cars, says Jürgen Guldner, who is in charge of the BMW Group’s hydrogen research initiative.

Long lead periods are required for hydrogen to be useable generally and on a wide scale, as the automobile manufacturer’s example demonstrates. As a result, the collaboration between Lower Austria and Bavaria ought to be a turbo for both.

On the one hand, a scientific and economic exchange was decided upon,  because novel hydrogen-related goods are currently available. For instance, the Mostviertel business “Worthington Industries” creates high-pressure canisters for the volatile gas that can also be used as storage in automobiles. On the other side, the Waldviertel-based business Testfuchs has created a power generator that utilizes hydrogen rather than diesel. According to Mikl-Leitner, the expertise of Lower Austrian businesses should be networked with that of Bavarian businesses.

According to her, innovation is the main priority. According to Mikl-Leitner, the goal is to “create a platform with business, science, and industry via which scientific ideas can be advanced.”

Lower Austria under the spotlight

The availability of hydrogen is a second crucial factor. If hydrogen is required for industry and transportation, pipeline transportation of the raw material will also be required. They wish to rely on shared pipelines in this case. For instance, hydrogen produced in Africa may be sent to southern Europe and then transferred via specialized pipes. The gas lines already in place might easily be modified in this manner. According to Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder, Bavarians are expecting more cooperation with Lower Austria in this area (CSU).

“With regard to future water vapor pipelines, we have agreed on a contact exchange. While thinking very strongly about the north when in Berlin, we in Bayern are thinking about the south. We see the Mediterranean and the Alpine region, and there, Niederösterreich will play a crucial role. We’ve already made the decision to set up our own water supply network in Burghausen, with connections to Niederösterreich. In terms of research and pipelines, I think we can develop a new perspective at that point, according to the Bayrian Ministerpräsident.

The importance of hydrogen as a future technology is acknowledged worldwide, not only in Europe. Both Asia and the USA are making large investments in this technology. Regional collaboration, as was recently the case between Lower Austria and Bavaria, is necessary for Europe to play a leading role in this in the future.