German Economy Minister Robert Habeck welcomed “significant progress” in his negotiations with the European Commission on the terms of government aid for hydrogen power plants.
Berlin, which aims to get most of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2035, is looking to hydrogen to play a vital role in the transition away from fossil fuels.
Habeck described the talks with Brussels as “intensive”, and confirmed that a common understanding had been reached on the legal framework for the planned tendering process to build these plants.
He said in a statement: “We have made significant progress in this direction.”
The Ministry of Economy also noted in the same statement that the European Commission has not yet approved government aid for hydrogen projects.
“However, the talks have defined the framework that government support programs should work within to comply with state aid rules and European energy legislation,” the ministry said.
The ministry will complete its power plant strategy by the end of summer, before starting the consultation phase with stakeholders.
“The zero-emissions electricity sector is the backbone of sustainability in other sectors, as all sectors will need to consume more electricity in the future than they do today.”
Germany aims to rely primarily on solar and wind energy to produce clean energy in the future.
However, in cases of low wind or solar power, “dispatchable” power plants, such as those powered by sustainable hydrogen, will be needed to make up for the shortfall.
Berlin is seeking to tender for the construction of new 8.8 GW green hydrogen power stations from scratch.
The government also plans to issue further tenders for 15 gigawatts of temporary natural gas power plants until they are connected to the hydrogen network by 2035 at the latest.
The question of aid to power plants has been a contentious issue in the negotiations between the European Commission and Berlin.
Germany is demanding that the European Union’s climate reduction plans include subsidies for new power plants, which would ensure faster approval and larger funding, according to reports in Der Spiegel in July.
On the other hand, the Commission believes that this could be a problem if it also included climate-damaging gas stations, meaning that aid would only be available to hydrogen stations.
Hydrogen is a zero-emissions energy carrier when produced using renewable electricity. Green hydrogen is produced when an electric current is passed through water to split it into hydrogen and oxygen. This process is considered environmentally friendly because the electricity used comes from renewable energy sources that do not produce harmful emissions.
When hydrogen is burned, only water vapor is released, which does not harm the environment.
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