Germany to ramp up electrolyzers needed for green energy shift

Source: iStock

Germany will rely on hydrogen to replace coal, natural gas and nuclear power as it tries to get back on track in phasing out fossil fuels.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said ramping up hydrogen production is a central pillar of Germany’s transformation — particularly for heavy-emitting industry and as a fuel back-up power for renewables.

“Hydrogen can and will replace natural gas, oil and coal — especially in industry, the energy sector, but also in air, sea and heavy-haul transport,” Scholz told members of a business association on Tuesday. “By 2030 we want to build 10 gigawatts of electrolysis capacity in Germany — twice as much as originally planned in the National Hydrogen Strategy.”

Germany — which currently emits far more carbon dioxide than any other country in Europe — is aiming to wean itself off coal and nuclear power by the end of the decade. While it plans to add new gas-fired power plants with a capacity of up to 21 gigawatts to replace shuttered capacity, it needs hydrogen to eventually phase out gas. Germany wants to source all its electricity needs from renewables by 2035.

On electrolyzers, which are needed to produce hydrogen, Scholz said the new capacities will be used for the country’s own demand, “but also for the world market.” He also said that, from 2024, Germany aims to install 500,000 new heat pumps per year to replace gas boilers.

A move to hydrogen is the next step for Germany after it managed to make itself independent of gas, oil and coal from Russia within a very short time after the invasion of Ukraine, according to the Chancellor.

“If we can broaden our supply sources and reliably count on liquefied natural gas imports, then we will also be able to shut down the coal-fired power plants that we had to ramp up at short notice during the crisis,” he said.

© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.

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