The birth of a hydrogen economy


When the Cottbus chamber of industry and commerce (IHK) and the regional economic development agency of Lausitz (WRL) announced they had submitted a bid to the German transportation ministry to be part of the HyStarter innovation cluster program, …

…few locals believed those two had a chance to win. The field was crowded with 120 regions throughout Germany competing for one of the highly sought-after spots on the program. So, on Sept. 9, 2019, when Lausitz residents discovered their region was among the nine winners, they were more than overjoyed. The following lines are a stab at explaining how this success came about.

In the times ahead, no other region in Germany will undergo more profound economic changes than the Lausitz, whose traditional industries are dying. The government has decided that by 2038, that is, over the next 18 years, the region must shut down coal mines and power plants. A political decision with far-reaching consequences.

About every tenth kilowatt-hour of electricity used somewhere in Germany right now is produced in coal-fired power stations in the Lausitz. More than 16,000 people are currently employed at open-pit mines and energy generation facilities or as service providers and suppliers catering to the industry. In short, energy businesses have long been the backbone of the region’s industrial sector.

Energy of the times

The regional government cherishes its decades-long ties to the energy industry. In fact, the region has all the right amenities to give power producers a home. Hydrogen could be the boost the Lausitz needs, opening up new opportunities for transporting and storing energy.

“Hydrogen is one of the most intriguing future energy carriers.”
Jens Krause, spokesperson for the Lausitz Hydrogen Alliance

When transforming the region’s economy, the coal industry’s well-paying jobs must be replaced with other high-quality roles in industry. Local businesses also need to develop green, sustainable technology, using hydrogen instead of fossil fuels, since the gas meets all the right criteria to become a key technological showcase.

read more in H2-international August 2020

Jens Krause
Industrie- und Handelskammer (IHK) Cottbus

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