The Federal Government’s Parliamentary State Secretary and Commissioner for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), Michael Kellner, has set the ball rolling on a significant energy transition dialogue involving over fifty SME associations. The primary focus: the future production and provision of hydrogen for medium-sized companies.
Hydrogen: The Future of Energy for SMEs
Kellner underscored the importance of hydrogen in the energy landscape, stating, “In addition to electricity, hydrogen is the energy source of the future.” He reaffirmed the government’s commitment to expedite the development of a robust hydrogen infrastructure and market.
Despite the colossal investment necessary for the transition towards a fully electrified energy supply, Kellner was optimistic about the economic potential. “If we set the right guardrails, if we do not overwhelm small and medium-sized enterprises and find the right mix between courage and realism, then the phase-out of fossil fuels will also be an economic success,” he declared. He envisioned a new robust and sustainable economic resurgence as a result of this transformation.
Crucial Considerations for SMEs in the Hydrogen Transition
Two crucial considerations emerged from Kellner’s dialogue with the SME associations. First, in terms of hydrogen supply, energy-intensive medium-sized companies that cannot electrify their production need to be accommodated. This points to the crucial role hydrogen could play in sectors where electrification is not feasible due to technical or economic constraints.
Secondly, many energy-intensive SMEs are located in rural areas, often remote from large conurbations. Their geographic position must be taken into account in the multi-stage planning of hydrogen networks. This highlights the need for a comprehensive and inclusive approach to building hydrogen infrastructure, which ensures access for businesses regardless of location.
According to Kellner, the hydrogen core network marks the initial phase of the hydrogen infrastructure ramp-up and not the final expansion stage. Following this, the Integrated Network Development Plan for Natural Gas and Hydrogen will facilitate demand-based planning for a comprehensive hydrogen network.
Kellner’s dialogue underscores the Federal Government’s commitment to supporting SMEs during the energy transition. By facilitating the switch to hydrogen, the government is taking concrete steps towards climate neutrality while safeguarding the economic health of a critical sector.