How do science, business, NGOs and public administration envisage the future hydrogen economy in Germany? A new survey by acatech - National Academy of Science and Engineering and DECHEMA Society for Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology now provides answers. The two project partners presented the first results to the public today, along with a forecast based on the H2-Compass scientific meta-analysis: Hydrogen demand in 2030 will be several times higher than domestic generation capacities.
According to a majority of experts, a key factor in promoting the ramp-up of the hydrogen economy in Germany will be guarantees of origin for climate-friendly hydrogen. This is the result of the survey, ‘Hydrogen Economy 2030/2050: Goals and Paths’, conducted by acatech and DECHEMA among nearly 600 representatives from science, industry, NGOs and public administration. The study is part of the joint H2-Compass project. Today, the project partners presented the first results in an online conference ahead of the publication of the complete survey results in spring 2022.
Judith Pirscher, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, and Patrick Graichen, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, gave keynote speeches at the beginning of the conference. They made clear that the political and regulatory groundwork for a competitive hydrogen economy in Germany must be laid during the current legislative period. State Secretary Pirscher emphasised that "when it comes to climate action, we must use technology without having to sacrifice comfort or wellbeing. Green hydrogen is therefore a key element in achieving our ambitious climate goals. At the same time, hydrogen technologies offer tremendous opportunities for new growth, and export markets, and for good jobs. To take advantage of these opportunities, we need a massive innovation push. With its open approach to technology research funding, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research stands for this innovation boost." State Secretary Graichen underlined that, "Research and innovation for the energy transition and climate action are a strategic element of our climate and energy policy. We need a ramp-up of hydrogen in no-regret applications. For this, we need to know what smartly targeted and application-oriented energy research looks like, which will help to reduce technology costs."
Market ramp-up: insufficient land availability for renewable energy generation slows down hydrogen economy development
In order to trigger the market ramp-up, survey respondents believe that further measures are necessary in addition to guarantees of origin for climate-friendly hydrogen. Among other things, the electricity used for hydrogen production should be largely exempted from state price components. Furthermore, in the opinion of the respondents, government subsidies for hydrogen projects are needed. The survey results also point to central obstacles to the large-scale production of climate-neutral hydrogen in Germany: 59 percent of the respondents see the high investment and operating costs as an obstacle to the economic viability of production plants. Likewise, 59 percent of the respondents see the insufficient availability of land for renewable energy plants as a primary obstacle. Finally, in order to establish hydrogen as an energy carrier, the respondents believe that measures are needed to promote the acceptability of new technologies. This applies especially to the expansion of renewable energy plants, to the issue of safety in hydrogen production and use, and for new hydrogen transport infrastructures.
"Our survey results make clear that science, industry, NGOs and public administration have a very similar view of drivers and barriers for the hydrogen market ramp-up," summarised Jan Wörner, acatech President. "These results are an important reference point in the creation of a hydrogen roadmap based on the soon to be revised National Hydrogen Strategy. This hydrogen roadmap can only be successful if it aims at a mix of instruments that is both coordinated and flexible. In this way, production, transport and storage infrastructures as well as application areas can emerge at the same time and quickly."
Hydrogen market 2030: large gap between domestic production and demand
acatech and DECHEMA are currently working on a meta-analysis in which they continuously evaluate studies and strategy papers on hydrogen. Today they presented preliminary results in the areas of mobility, steel, the chemical industry and the hydrogen production capacity of Germany. So far, the analysis shows electrolysis projects with a total capacity of about five gigawatts by 2030. In the coalition agreement, the new federal government agreed on an electrolysis capacity target of 10 gigawatts by 2030.
However, the H2-Compass meta-analysis shows: Even assuming optimistic load hours and achieving the political target, domestic capacities built up by 2030 will be insufficient to cover the projected minimum domestic demand of about 50 terawatt hours. "Sustainable hydrogen will remain a scarce resource in the coming years, in the face of growing demand," concluded Klaus Schäfer, chairman of the board of DECHEMA. "In order to bring demand and supply in line in the future, it is necessary to immediately plot the right political course. There are various options for action available to policymakers in this regard. With the H2-Compass project, we are helping to highlight the ecological, economic and social aspects of the various political options for action."
About the H2-Compass project
acatech and DECHEMA have been conducting the two-year H2-Compass project since June 2021. With the help of a meta-analysis, they are jointly developing an overview of various development paths for the market ramp-up as well as corresponding options for action with their respective advantages and disadvantages. Furthermore, the H2-Compass project has been organising a dialogue with stakeholders from academia, industry, politics and civil society in order to obtain their views and work towards a common vision of a German hydrogen economy. The project results can be used by policymakers to develop a national hydrogen roadmap. The H2-Compass project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action.
In spring 2022, acatech and DECHEMA will publish their full report of the survey results. Selected results of the survey will be available for download as a short dossier on wasserstoff-kompass.de.