Green molecules, in particular renewable hydrogen and its derivatives, will play a critical role in the next phase of the energy transition, in addition to green electricity.
They are in high demand because they can be used in places where fossil hydrocarbons such as oil, natural gas, and coal are currently used. However, it is unclear where the necessary quantities will come from. Many countries have already established themselves as potential suppliers and are eager to enter new markets. The extent to which imports will be required – and the contribution that domestic production can make – is still being debated in Germany. Both are not mutually exclusive, because if Germany begins to take its climate targets seriously, both domestic production and renewable hydrogen imports will be possible.
Bridges must be built and strong partnerships must be formed in order to establish new import relationships. When it comes to finding partners, we immediately think of our European neighbors – renewable hydrogen could become a European joint venture. Traditional energy suppliers such as Morocco, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, are positioning themselves to partially convert their fossil fuel business models. These developments are welcome and significant, but they will most likely fall short of meeting projected demand. This is where an Australia-Germany hydrogen partnership could come in as a new player. Both countries are natural trading partners and have had a long-standing trusting relationship.
However, Australia is still not regarded as a forerunner in the energy transition. The country uses a lot of coal to generate electricity and exports a lot of liquefied natural gas and lignite, including to Germany. However, Australia now has more solar systems per capita than any other country in the world, and this trend is expected to continue. With its enormous renewable energy potential, Australia can play a key role in achieving a climate-neutral future and will most likely soon produce more clean energy than it requires. China, Korea, and particularly Japan have already recognized this and are heavily investing in Australia. Contracts have been signed, and pilot and demonstration plants are up and running. Australia has a competitive advantage over other suppliers because it is financially strong, politically stable, ambitious, and a proven energy exporter. Expertise in mechanical and plant engineering for hydrogen technologies is lacking. This is where German industry can step in and create a true win-win situation.
Germany has finally entered this competitive market with its HySupply project, which began in December of last year. The goal of HySupply is to provide a blueprint for a future German-Australian hydrogen bridge. To that end, it is looking into how Australia’s sunlight can be transported to Germany as efficiently as possible. However, in addition to plans, studies, and presentations, implementation necessitates an open dialogue between industry, science, and politics. In the case of Australia, Germany has a one-of-a-kind partner poised to become the world’s first green energy behemoth.