To achieve its climate policy goals, Germany must quickly take ambitious steps to ramp up the hydrogen economy. The “Hydrogen Action Plan Germany 2021 – 2025” (“Wasserstoff Aktionsplan Deutschland 2021 – 2025”) contains 80 proposals from the National Hydrogen Council (NWR – Nationaler Wasserstoffrat) for the next federal government. The 26 experts of the body advising the Federal Government handed over the Action Plan to the Head of the Chancellor’s Office, Prof. Helge Braun, today.
The National Hydrogen Council was commissioned in June 2020 together with the resolution on the National Hydrogen Strategy to advise and support the German government with proposals and recommendations for action in the implementation and further development of the National Hydrogen Strategy. Helge Braun thanked the members of the Council for their work so far: “Since its establishment last summer, the Hydrogen Council has already been able to spark many important impulses. With its statements and now with the Action Plan 2021-2025, the Council provides valuable input for the government’s work and the urgently needed market ramp-up of hydrogen technologies. It is essential for achieving our ambitious energy and climate goals, and at the same time it also opens up new markets and economic opportunities for us.”
Katherina Reiche, Chairperson of the National Hydrogen Council, emphasised: “Hydrogen is the cornerstone for the decarbonisation of applications that cannot be converted to green electricity in a technically or economically viable manner. Only through a consistent ramp-up of the hydrogen economy will it be possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions comprehensively and efficiently. We see the action plan as a blueprint for a government programme on hydrogen following the Bundestag elections in September. From our point of view, the implementation of these measures is indispensable if we are to be able to achieve the climate targets, which have once again been intensified.”
The action plan is structured in three parts: First, the initial situation is discussed with a view to climate protection targets, industrial potentials and legal framework conditions. The second part summarises the discussion on the expected ramp-up of the hydrogen economy by 2030 – differentiated by demand, volume and necessary infrastructure. The third part derives concrete recommendations for action, prioritised according to urgency, for the effective implementation of the National Hydrogen Strategy. “The aim is to realise the hydrogen market ramp-up along the entire value chain – in other words, from production to storage and transport to applications as well as a qualified supplier industry,” says Katherina Reiche.
Concrete proposals for action: 80 measures prioritised according to timing
The National Hydrogen Council has proposed 80 individual measures in the action plan and has also prioritised them in terms of time. In particular, the necessary decisions for industry are to be made in the very short term: First on the list is the availability of green hydrogen, followed by the recording of the carbon footprint of the gases used in industrial processes through the introduction of uniform guarantees of origin. The action plan also identifies short-term development needs for government support instruments.
In the transport sector, the National Hydrogen Council members see a need for short-term action within the next two years. In addition to standardisation aspects and questions of the EU’s regulatory framework, the main issues are the development of a Europe-wide filling station infrastructure and the state-supported development of a supplier industry.
The National Hydrogen Council also identifies the need for action in the regulatory framework as part of its action plan. It pays particular attention to a suitable price incentive: “Firstly, CO2 pricing must be strengthened in all sectors. Secondly, the electricity price must be exempted from the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG – Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz) levy. And thirdly, the electricity tax must be significantly reduced,” explained Katherina Reiche.
The National Hydrogen Council (NWR – Der Nationale Wasserstoffrat)
With the adoption of the National Hydrogen Strategy, the German government established the National Hydrogen Council on 10 June 2020. The Council consists of 26 high-level experts from business, science and civil society who are not part of the public administration. The members of the Hydrogen Council have expertise in the areas of production, research and innovation, decarbonisation of industry, transport and building/heating, infrastructure, international partnerships, as well as climate and sustainability. The National Hydrogen Council is chaired by Katherina Reiche, CEO of Westenergie AG and former Parliamentary State Secretary.
The task of the National Hydrogen Council is to advise and support the State Secretary’s Committee for Hydrogen (Staatssekretärsausschuss für Wasserstoff) with proposals and recommendations for action in the implementation and further development of the Hydrogen Strategy.