Seventh H2Congress in Berlin

Norbert Barthle

The German Hydrogen Congress is gradually turning into the most important event of the German hydrogen and fuel cell industry. Held in the Berlin office of North Rhine-Westphalia for two half days on July 5 and 6, 2016, it attracted as many as around 200 attendees this year. Compared to the last H2Congress at the same location two years ago, the number has increased by about 50 percent.

The main theme of this year’s event was hydrogen as a path to advancing decarburization. Frank-Michael Baumann, managing director of EnergieAgentur.NRW, said in his opening speech: “Hydrogen will play an important role in the energy industry and the transport sector of the 21st century with regard to the planned and approved expansion of renewables, the related consequences for storage and for climate protection.“

Similarly, Sönke Tangermann, managing director of Greenpeace Energy, said that the use of hydrogen certainly made sense economically. In great detail, he explained during his presentation why he thought it was necessary to deploy power-to-gas technology and further expand the use of renewable energies. In concrete terms, he estimated that one gigawatt of electrolysis power would need to be set up from 2020 on to make Germany entirely self-sufficient by 2050.

The parliamentary state secretary at the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Norbert Barthle, did claim in his opening remarks that “together with Japan and California, Germany is the leader in testing H2 transportation technology,” but he also warned that “we must not surrender the market to manufacturers from Japan – our domestic industry needs to catch up as quickly as possible.” Considering that Barthle is hardly known for openly criticizing anything, it was indeed remarkable what he had to say about the achievements of the H2 and fuel cell industry: “There could be some more, but they are definitely something to show for.”

Asked whether there is not something more that could be done to promote alternative fuels by removing the EUR 7 million of tax privileges for diesel fuel per year, Barthle responded in a Solomonian way: “You should do one thing without abandoning the other.” He then added in much clearer terms: “At present, minister Dobrindt does not intend to make changes to diesel taxation.”

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