Broad support for Efficiency First

Logos of German political parties
Logos of German political parties.

The idea of using hydrogen as energy storage entered the political mainstream a long time ago. The coalition agreement between the Christian and the Social Democrats in Germany includes several direct references to hydrogen and fuel cells, while a few other parties have made the technologies part of their platforms as well.

Still, how a party approaches both is a matter of where it falls on the political spectrum. H2-international has spoken to a number of German politicians about their views of the two energy carriers and summed up their answers below. It should be noted, however, that this article can provide only a snapshot of today’s political landscape, as not everyone responded in time.

You might think that establishing a hydrogen economy would be an aim rigorously pushed by the Greens, since hydrogen and fuel cells are often associated with eco-friendly solutions, one of the party’s core objectives. But there is little to indicate that this is actually true. So far, members of the Green Party have mostly ignored both technologies and put out too few statements for anyone to hazard a guess what their opinion might be.

Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (The Greens)

In an interview published in the October 2018 issue of H2-international, the co-chairman of the Greens, Robert Habeck, shed some light on where his party stands regarding hydrogen and fuel cells. His fellow party member Hans-Josef Fell, who co-sponsored the Renewable Energy Sources Act, told H2-international that hydrogen was “definitely an important option, in addition to a few others.” He noted that besides passenger cars, there were “many markets, such as those for buses, railroad vehicles, airplanes and basic chemicals, where solar hydrogen will play a crucial role.” However, he also remarked that putting up the fueling stations required for it would be “a difficult hurdle to overcome.”

FDP (Free Democrats)

By contrast, the Free Democratic Party has stated much more clearly what it thinks of the technology, as those living in German towns and cities can often be heard saying that the FDP’s pragmatic approach to transforming the energy sector is what helped move along local hydrogen and fuel cell projects. Its spokesperson for energy and chair of the agriculture and environment committee in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, Oliver Kumbartzky, said that “one of our state party’s long-term objectives is to establish a hydrogen showcase region on the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein. We want to support projects that demonstrate or research the technology or help coordinate development. We believe hydrogen is a good way forward. Unlike today’s resources, it produces no harmful emissions and will create much economic prosperity and wealth for the citizens of our great state.”

read more in H2-international April 2019

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