The southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg aims to go carbon neutral by 2040, intending to harness the potential of green hydrogen, among other renewable energy sources.
Given its broad applicability, green hydrogen could prove indispensable in meeting the state’s ambitious climate goals, as shared by Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann.
In his address to the state parliament, Kretschmann emphasized, “Without green hydrogen, there is no climate neutrality”. This energy source could be used to fuel engines and power plants, manufacture steel, and even substitute fossil-based raw materials in plastics, medicines, or fertilizers.
The Opportunity in Green Hydrogen
This plan aligns with Baden-Württemberg’s economic agenda. With around 90 companies and 18 academic and non-academic institutions active in the hydrogen technology field, the state is well-positioned to spearhead this venture. Kretschmann opined that developing the hydrogen supply could offer a massive opportunity for the state’s economy, potentially turning it into a leading exporter of hydrogen technology.
However, the current use of hydrogen is limited, mainly due to inadequate infrastructure. Kretschmann envisages large-scale imports of green hydrogen once the required pipelines are established. This scenario, he believes, mirrors the initial stages of constructing the first railway lines or rendering the Neckar navigable.
Striving for diverse sourcing, the state plans to procure hydrogen from all four directions – north, west, south, and east, to avoid reliance on a single supplier, a situation familiar with Russian gas.
The Political Discourse
While the ruling government is ambitious about green hydrogen, the opposition seeks more definitive actions. SPD parliamentary group leader Andreas Stoch urged the government to translate their ambitious goals into tangible actions, learning from the shortcomings of wind power development.
FDP’s Hans-Ulrich Rülke, on the other hand, pushed for openness to all types of hydrogen production, including those using electricity from nuclear power.
Anton Baron from AfD pointed out that hydrogen technology might still need decades to mature, criticizing the simultaneous decommissioning of reliable nuclear power plants.
The state’s chemical industry, welcoming the expansion of the hydrogen infrastructure, stressed on affordability and alignment with industry needs.