On March 30, 2017, the German Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association organized a parliamentary evening at the French embassy in Germany’s capital of Berlin. The embassy had already been the venue for a similar meeting between politicians and industry representatives three years ago. The topic was the economic feasibility of hydrogen transportation, this time including rail and maritime applications besides the much-discussed issue of road vehicles.
Embassy staff reported on concrete hydrogen and fuel cell projects in the French Republic. For example, there is Hype, a project that tested the suitability of twelve fuel cell cars in taxicab operation, and NavHybus, where hydrogen is used to transport 80,000 commuters across a river each year.
“I believe hydrogen will have a key role to play in the successful transformation of the energy market.”
Bernd Westphal, member of parliament and Social Democratic spokesperson on economic and energy issues
“Without hydrogen, expanding the use of renewables makes little sense today.”
Werner Diwald, chair of DWV
“Hydrogen will have its success story if we can offer attractive solutions.”
Guillaume Larroque, service station manager at Total Germany
“For some time, battery-driven transportation will remain insufficient to match vehicle demand.”
Norbert Barthle, parliamentary state secretary at Germany’s federal transport ministry
Most of the representatives from politics, many of whom temporarily rushed for …
Ruprecht Brandis, director external affairs at German BP, was even more blunt: “The diversification of the energy mix will occur over several decades. […] We haven’t changed our stance on hydrogen. Only when it comes to refineries, do we see some potential.”
Until 2015, mineral oil corporations had been required by law to mix renewably sourced and normal fuel to meet biofuel quotas. In 2015, this piece of legislation was replaced by the emissions reduction targets, which could likewise be met by adding fuels from renewable sources. If renewable hydrogen, as produced from renewables via electrolysis, were to receive equal treatment to biofuels, it could lower the import numbers of the latter and increase the production of the former, he said.
He estimated that hydrogen could meet around ten per cent of bio fuel demand. The DWV concurred, saying that this approach was a good opportunity for establishing a hydrogen market and cut the costs of electrolysis, a currently quite expensive technology. And all attendees agreed that the gas station price of EUR 9.5 per kilogram was too high. In response, Diwald said: “A first step in the right direction would be to allow ‘green’ hydrogen to be recognized as lowering the GHG emissions of fuel mixtures sold on the market.”