Following recent modifications to the Energy Industry Act, the German Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) declared that it would take on new responsibility in the regulation of hydrogen networks and infrastructure (EnWG).
As a result of the news, BNetzA will be in charge of regulating hydrogen infrastructure in Germany as it grows.
Operators of hydrogen networks could be regulated by the agency in the future if they submit a “opt-in statement,” according to the change.
According to BNetzA, hydrogen network operators are required to work together to build a cross-operator line and storage infrastructure for hydrogen and its usage by third parties.
The EnWG amendment includes a number of other elements, including network access and unbundling, in addition to regulating the hydrogen sector.
In terms of network access, the amendment provides that hydrogen network providers must grant third parties reasonable and nondiscriminatory access to their networks, provided that the connection or access is required by third parties.
Hydrogen network operators must post their current terms and conditions for network access on their websites, and they have the right to refuse connection or access to the network if they can demonstrate that connection or access is not possible or reasonable for them due to operational, economic, or technical reasons.
Hydrogen network operators are not authorized to create, run, or own any systems that can be utilized in the production, storage, or sale of hydrogen as part of the unbundling regulations.
The news follows BNetzA’s confirmation earlier this year of their Gas Network Development Plan 2020-2030 (NEP Gas), which saw a number of hydrogen projects requested by transmission system operators (TSOs) rejected.
According to BNetzA, hydrogen infrastructure is not covered by EnWG, hence they are unable to make decisions about the conversion or building of new hydrogen infrastructure within the scope of the gas network development plan.
They did, however, confirm procedures allowing for the withdrawal of 24 gas lines or gas pressure regulating devices from the natural gas network, which could be switched to hydrogen use immediately as long as they could meet their gas transport commitments in the existing natural gas network.
While acknowledging that it was a necessary step toward starting the conversion of natural gas infrastructure to hydrogen, the German Association of Gas Transmission System Operators (FNB Gas) criticized the decision, claiming that it would create a “patchwork quilt” of hydrogen infrastructure in Germany.
FNB Gas reported a strong growth in demand for hydrogen and green gases in the scenario framework as part of the first step in drafting the Network Development Plan (NEP) 2022-2032, with 500 project submissions submitted from market partners.
These projects will now be evaluated by BNetzA when they are assessed in the near future, thanks to the EnWG amendment.