The German government has recently adopted a National Hydrogen Strategy as part of its commitment to become both a global leader in the energy transition and a market leader in technologies that support the wider ambition to achieve carbon neutrality.
Germany’s Strategy considers that only hydrogen produced using renewable energy with no carbon emissions (green hydrogen) will be sustainable in the long term, and putting hydrogen so firmly at the centre of their national strategy will open up new economic opportunities for German businesses at home and abroad. Their national commitment to green hydrogen is backed up with hard cash – billions of Euros will be made available to speed up the development of hydrogen technology and to foster international partnerships.
The Strategy also acknowledges that Germany alone cannot generate enough green hydrogen to meet even its own requirements. So Germany will have to import much of its energy from abroad and that means cooperation with other European countries. The use of offshore wind energy is specifically identified as playing an important role in delivering on the green hydrogen goal.
That offers a great opportunity for the UK, and in particular Scotland which has a number of key advantages in dominating the developing hydrogen market. An abundance of renewable energy resources (both offshore wind and tidal) combined with the UK oil and gas industry’s highly-experienced supply chain and decades of working offshore means Scotland has one of the best ecosystems for the production of hydrogen in Europe.
Scottish Development International organised a virtual seminar in May with the British Chamber of Commerce in Germany for German businesses and investors to highlight Scotland’s ability to produce green hydrogen at an industrial scale for a zero carbon future.
The seminar pitched the potential opportunities for German businesses to get involved in developing and participating in Scotland’s hydrogen future, but the placing of green hydrogen at the centre of Germany’s strategy on achieving net zero means Scottish and UK businesses are well placed to benefit in the opposite direction.
Germany will need and be looking for partners that can help it in a number of areas: (1) to increase hydrogen production from offshore wind; (2) to develop the necessary transport and distribution infrastructure; and (3) to create a sustainable global hydrogen market which will in turn reduce costs of production.
But while Germany’s focus on green hydrogen as the only form of sustainable energy in the long run is laudable, the increase required in renewable power capacity for the production of green hydrogen in sufficient quantities will not happen overnight.
The urgent need to decarbonise industrial and energy sectors means blue hydrogen (where carbon emissions are captured and stored) still has an important role to play in the short term as a pathway to the goal of green hydrogen production on an industrial scale.
Germany’s Strategy acknowledges that many of those countries currently producing and exporting…