Green hydrogen fuels nuclear tensions between France and Germany

Europe has nuclear tensions. Because the EU focuses on this low-carbon technology’s hydrogen role.

Berlin wants to link nuclear with hydrocarbons despite its negligible climate impact. He won’t label nuclear-produced hydrogen “green.”

After Fukushima, Germany decided to phase out nuclear power more than a decade ago. 100% renewable energy by 2030, up from 40%.

France wants to generate “green” H2 using its low-carbon nuclear reactor mix. Agn├Ęs Pannier-Runacher wants hydro, wind, photovoltaic, and uranium fission included.

Almost 96% of Europe’s energy is generated by steam reforming the methane molecule (CH4) in gas, which generates 9 to 10 kg of CO2 per kg of hydrogen.

Break a water molecule (H2O) using electrolysis to create a “sustainable” variant.

Origin of the electron determines “cleanness” Coal or gas-generated hydrogen is “gray.” “Green” sources include wind, solar, and hydro. French officials seek to add fission current.

Atoms are beneficial. According to the industry, using enough and stable electricity is key to make low-carbon hydrogen profitable over “grey” (or foreign-produced) hydrogen. Continuous electricity (5,000 hours/year minimum, 8,000 hours/year optimal) makes hydrogen production cheaper. France’s nuclear load factor is 75%, whereas solar, onshore wind, and offshore wind are 15%, 22%, and 38%, respectively.

Even in Germany, intermittent renewable sources won’t produce enough hydrogen by 2030. MEPs resolved in mid-September to consider fossil-based H2 renewable if a wind turbine or solar panel produced equivalent current in Europe in the last three months. Legislative legerdemain that exonerates “grey”

Belgium and Germany seek to import cheap hydrogen after abandoning nuclear power. Belgium and Namibia reached an agreement in 2021 to import renewable hydrogen into Europe. Germany’s H2 objective is 14 TWh, for 100 TWh in 2030. Berlin has committed 2 billion euros to import hydrogen from Morocco, Namibia, the DRC, and South Africa.

Unconciliable positions exist. MidCat would cross the Pyrenees from Spain to France to supply gas to Germany. French disagree with the German government’s plan to build infrastructure for future hydrogen imports.

Markus Pieper, a German conservative, asked the European Parliament on July 13 if nuclear energy can help create “green” hydrogen. Need winter debate.