In addition to being crucial for attaining climate targets, a successful and quick ramp-up of hydrogen is also necessary for a stable and diverse energy supply.

In order to expedite the planning and approval processes for the spread of renewable energies, the EU has already set out a lot of groundwork. The coalition agreement calls for large expenditures to be made as soon as possible in the production and usage of green hydrogen in order to reach the target of at least 10 GW of electrolysis capacity. An important consideration in the development of a hydrogen infrastructure is the transportation of hydrogen over the current gas pipeline network.

Politicians are urged by the German Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association (DWV) e.V. to establish clear framework conditions for the conversion of the current natural gas pipelines and the construction of a hydrogen infrastructure. The decarbonization of Germany and the EU’s emission-intensive industries and the security of the energy supply in 2050 both require at least 660 TWh/an of green hydrogen. In order to scale up a green hydrogen market economy, it is now crucial to streamline the planning, construction, and approval processes and to approach them in concert. It is imperative to remove any barriers that stand in the way of a rapid expansion of renewable energy sources’ capability for producing green hydrogen as well as their conversion and expansion. This is the only way that renewable energy sources in Germany and Europe can be disseminated, long-term stored and successfully integrated into a climate-neutral energy system.

Hydrogen ramp-up

Green hydrogen must be adequately accessible as an energy carrier in all sectors if the energy-intensive European industry is to be able to compete in a post-fossil world economy. The cost-effective method for moving significant amounts of renewable energy from the sources of production to the primary locations of consumption and making it available when needed is the transportation of hydrogen via pipelines and its storage in large-volume underground storage facilities.

Werner Diwald, the DWV’s chairman: “The prerequisites for attaining the agreed-upon climate targets in all sectors are created by the quick upgrading of the current infrastructure through the rapid conversion to or building of hydrogen networks. Future hydrogen users, both within and outside consumers, can only be safely supplied with enough green hydrogen by joining a network that makes pure hydrogen or initially also hydrogen gas mixtures available through admixture.

The Energy Industry Act’s (EnWG) transitional requirements for hydrogen networks are insufficient to support the infrastructure’s rapid expansion. In order to maximize the potential of the current infrastructure and its operators, workable strategies for financing the conversion are needed. According to the DWV, a feasible solution is the finance scheme suggested by the German Energy Agency (dena) for the development of a hydrogen network.

Upgrading existing infrastructure quickly

According to the dena model, the federal government will commission network operators to set up and run a hydrogen network made up of newly constructed hydrogen pipeline sections and converted natural gas pipeline sections. The grid fees are kept at a level that is sustainable. In order to encourage essential investments and protect against the risks of a delayed hydrogen ramp-up during the network infrastructure construction phase, an amortization account can be implemented. The BNetzA operates the hydrogen network on a costly regulation that is completely dependent on hydrogen. However, given the time until 2030, it is not necessary to establish a future hydrogen infrastructure in the form of a hydrogen network firm, as is to be defined as part of the revision of the National Hydrogen Strategy (NWS). Building such a society will cause delays in the development of hydrogen infrastructure, making it impossible for businesses to achieve their climate goals.

The legislative and financial framework for funding the hydrogen infrastructure must be designed by the federal government in a way that increases investment security for infrastructure operators and customers. The current aim is to develop the financial requirements for a reasonably priced, dependable, and long-lasting hydrogen supply.

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