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New hydrogen master plan for East Germany

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With coal being phased out, numerous East German federal states are forced to realign themselves.

Three Fraunhofer Institutes’ new “Hydrogen Master Plan for East Germany” gives precise recommendations for how this could look if the region capitalizes on its capabilities.

After coal, there will be (green) hydrogen: future demand for the clean energy carrier in transportation and industry is expected to be considerable. East Germany has enormous potential for hydrogen-based value development. Particularly when the region as a whole is considered rather than the federal states individually as is customary.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Infrastructures and Geothermal Energy IEG, Systems and Innovation Research ISI, and Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS have now outlined a strategy for leveraging synergies across federal states.

“The transition to hydrogen as an energy carrier presents an excellent opportunity to combine East Germany’s complementary strengths through coordinated transnational action by business, science, and politics,” says Prof. Mario Ragwitz, head of the Fraunhofer IEG and spokesman for the Fraunhofer Society’s hydrogen network. “The energy sector, basic industries, car and plant building all contribute significantly to East Germany’s development of a sustainable hydrogen economy,” says Mario Ragwitz.

The master plan is based on the Fraunhofer Hydrogen Roadmap for Germany and illustrates the potential for demand and value generation through case studies. For the first time, the specialists examined the East German entrepreneurial ecosystem holistically and classified roughly 660 individuals to various value chain segments. This facilitates networking between individual players, fosters synergies, and averts the development of redundant structures or cannibalization effects between individual regions.

The experts detailed the advantages and disadvantages of each eastern German state. It became apparent that the profiles complement one another and that the optimal conditions for interstate collaboration exist. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Brandenburg, in particular, are capable of generating huge volumes of sustainable electricity and have substantial expertise with power plant technology. Saxony-Anhalt has a strong chemical sector and an advanced gas storage system. Saxony excels in plant and mechanical engineering, while Thuringia excels in safety, measurement, control, and regulation technology.

Over 50 specific actions are included in the hydrogen master plan. This may include the development of unique approval and approval methods, amendments to procurement criteria, and the establishment of unique educational offerings.

A “hydrogen agency” may coordinate the cooperation of the East German federal states. It has the potential to assure not just political coordination, but also the integration of industry, science, and politics. Additionally, a hydrogen agency might bring together businesses from diverse industries and value-added stages and offer them with close support to enable the implementation of major collaborative projects.

VNG, a Leipzig-based conglomerate, commissioned the hydrogen master plan. It comprises more than twenty enterprises engaged in the gas and infrastructure sectors, as well as the energy market. VNG intends to expand its operations in new areas such as green gases and digital infrastructure.

“As an East German company, we welcome the suggestions of the team of experts from the Fraunhofer Institutes, which has found concrete approaches to combine the goal of decarbonization through the development of a sustainable hydrogen economy with the highest possible added value in East Germany,” says Ulf Heitmüller, CEO the Leipzig VNG.

Nedim Husomanovic

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