German hydrogen network with European linkages

Hydrogen should aid climate neutrality in 2045. Above all, politicians and business support a Germany-wide hydrogen network with European linkages.

Besides two regional networks, no nationwide network exists. In addition to new pipes, existing natural gas pipelines, especially long-distance ones, are transformed to speed up and lower costs.

Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) is visiting Norway to start hydrogen imports. Both sides want to sign a proclamation reaffirming their 2030 ambition of building hydrogen export infrastructure from Norway to Germany. The program funds 15 infrastructure projects. Hydrogen networks are planned. European funds will establish a first national network. “Important Initiatives of Common European Interest” will fund 62 German hydrogen projects (IPCEI). 15 cover infrastructure, including storage.

The first network should run from the Dutch border via Hamburg, Salzgitter, the Halle/Leipzig industrial zone, Berlin, and Rostock, according to the natural gas transmission system operator. North Rhine-Westphalia and Saarland have cross-border regional projects.

The Federal Ministry of Economics recommends 1800 kilometers for the initial sub-networks. They connect major producers and purchasers with each other and nearby countries.

“Get H2 Nucleus” will begin in 2024. BP, Evonik, Nowega, OGE, and RWE support the IPCEI “Get H2 Nukleus” project. Green hydrogen generation and industry acceptability in Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia is the project.

The 130-kilometer network will begin in 2024 from Lingen im Emsland to Gelsenkirchen and be expanded with many other enterprises.

With a fast, high-performance network, Europe’s hydrogen economy can keep up with the US. Other German regions have ambitious goals. “Flow” is a hydrogen pipeline project by Gascade, Ontras, and Terranets from the Baltic Sea to southwest Germany. By 2025, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania-Thuringia natural gas pipes will be modified to transport hydrogen. By 2027, long-distance network operators (TSO) will model a hydrogen network with sub-networks totaling roughly 3000 kilometers nationwide. A 2032 model predicts the line length at 7,600–8,500 kilometers.

The traffic light coalition supports the 2020 “National Hydrogen Strategy” from the Ministry of Economics. Strategy discusses future networks. The ministry released a draft update at the end of November.

Mostly a national hydrogen network. State-backed network company The document suggests a “hydrogen network corporation with state cooperation” plan the networks.

EU debates focus on gas market design. The EU Commission proposed a gas market directive in 2021. Hydrogen network operators cannot simultaneously provide. Municipal utilities, as suppliers, run municipal natural gas distribution networks. In the gas business, such a restriction could reduce hydrogen network investment incentives. New directive discussions continue.