Guiding Germany into the hydrogen era: acatech and DECHEMA publish H2-Compass
Berlin, 08 September 2023
The federal government’s hydrogen strategy marks the start of Germany’s journey towards a hydrogen economy. Now, acatech and DECHEMA have published guidance on possible paths to the hydrogen economy. The data- and facts-based digital H2-Compass flags options for action in relation to production, transport and importation as well as use. One conclusion it draws is that Germany will remain an importer of energy, even with hydrogen – but will be able to significantly reduce critical dependencies by comparison with oil and gas.
Researchers, politicians and businesspeople agree that hydrogen will be an important element of an environmentally friendly economy. But many contentious issues remain. How much hydrogen can Germany produce at home using renewables? How much has to be imported? And what countries could Germany partner with? How can a European hydrogen transport network be created? And what are the most effective uses of hydrogen?
Now that the hydrogen strategy is in place, but also against the backdrop of the Paris Climate Agreement and with an eye towards our industrial and energy sovereignty, the objectives are clear. Our aim in publishing the H2-Compass is to provide guidance on the alternative ways of achieving these objectives.
Jan Wörner acatech President
Companies in many corners of industry have already taken important first steps towards scaling up the market. That said, there is no sign of any universal solutions for production, transport and use of hydrogen and its derivatives at the moment. The range of technological options is wide open. For that reason, technology-neutral and market-oriented knowledge is needed so that politicians can effectively support research and innovation.
Maximilian Fleischer, member of the Board of DECHEMA
Germany will remain an importer of energy – but will be able to reduce critical dependencies
Based on a hydrogen requirement of 95 to 130 terawatt hours in 2030, Germany will be reliant on imports to a significant extent. Many countries in and outside Europe could become hydrogen exporters. The main option for importing hydrogen into Germany is via pipeline. But from distant regions, the shipment of hydrogen and its derivatives is also a possibility. On the whole, the move from coal, oil and gas to hydrogen can be taken as an opportunity to diversify the sources of energy imports – this would increase Germany’s security of supply compared with fossil energy supplies.
Basic requirements, key technologies as well as existing and future ties between industries, processes and sectors emerged as work on the project proceeded. The H2-Compass shows how changes in technology in one area can give rise to need for change in other areas. For example, if refineries switch from refining crude oil to producing hydrogen-based fuel, important by-products, such as sulphur, bitumen and coke, will no longer arise. So, substitutes for them would have to be found in other areas of industry. Here’s another example from the steel industry: when production is switched from the traditional blast furnace process to the hydrogen-based direct reduction of iron, the by-products of the traditional process, such as slag and fly ash, which have always been used as fillers in the cement industry, no longer arise.
One thing is certain, however, which is that the accelerated expansion of renewables, a more interconnected European electricity system and a fully developed infrastructure for the importation and transportation of hydrogen and its derivatives are basic requirements for a hydrogen economy.
New Electrolysis Monitor: the gap in domestic production is closing
The H2-Compass project’s Electrolysis Monitor records key electrolysis capacities in Germany and Europe – both planned and existing. It gives further information on locations, stakeholders and technologies. One conclusion it draws is this: the gap between the current domestic production capacity and the German government’s target of 10 gigawatts by 2030 is closing all the time. However, there is still a shortfall of 1.2 gigawatts.
About the H2-Compass project
Germany aims to be climate neutral by 2045. Many areas can be defossilised with the help of hydrogen. At the same time, hydrogen offers options for growth for Germany as a place of industry. A project team from DECHEMA and acatech has together formulated the H2-Compass. The project is jointly funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.