Commentary on the Handelsblatt Energy Summit

Hydrogen was a dominant feature at this year’s Handelsblatt Energy Summit, which took place online and in Berlin from Jan. 17 to Jan. 20, 2022. The discussions covered its many production-dependent colors and possible applications and underlined the major role the energy carrier has to play in successfully transforming the planet’s energy ecosystem.

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Hydrogen poster competition

HydKPW Plakatrogen is now also making its presence felt in cultural quarters thanks to two associations based in Hamburg, Germany: The hydrogen society Wasserstoff-Gesellschaft Hamburg has organized a hydrogen-themed poster competition in partnership with the Kulturaustausch Hamburg-Übersee, an arts charity with its own gallery and publishing house. The 19th edition of the poster contest, which always has a contemporary theme, had previously been delayed by the pandemic. As a result, the exhibition opened on Oct. 30, 2021, and the award ceremony finally took place at the end of February 2022.

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Cummins Engine heavily seton the fuel cel

Cummins Engine is highly committed to the H2 industry – also in the commercial vehicle sector, starting with trucks and going all the way to ships. The company is also expanding its own electrolysis technologies. A project with Sinopec consists of an electrolysis capacity of 1 GW – 1,000 H2 fueling stations for the Greater Peking Area. Cummins Engine is vehemently driving its transformation from a diesel engine producer to a fuel cell company and in doing so majorly implementing and scaling the special knowhow of the purchased/integrated Canadian company Hydrogenics.

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H2 profits from the crisis 

Unfortunately, it must be stated so: the global increase in the price of oil and gas or LNG, which is also fueled by Russia’s bellicose actions here in Europe, is beneficial for the ramp-up of the hydrogen economy, since at the end of the day, aside from climate and economic policy issues and price, it’s about the ensured availability and delivery of energy. So there is a winner in this crisis: hydrogen green hydrogen. 

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H2 pipeline from Ukraine to Germany

First German-Ukrainian Energy Day Online, © AHK
First German-Ukrainian Energy Day, © AHK

The German-American talks regarding a possible activation of Nord Stream 2 also specifically addressed Germany’s involvement in Ukraine. Ukraine, which fears economic disadvantages as a result of Nord Stream 2, is to receive support from the Federal Republic of Germany in the further development of its energy supply system. Or that was the plan, before Putin’s attack of the country. Due to the current war, it is completely open what the future will look like in Eastern Europe, including what the energy supply situation will be. In order to show what opportunities could arise after the, hopefully near, end of this invasion, we describe here the initial situation, as it still looked at the end of 2021.

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Interview with Stijn van Els, Director of Port of Rotterdam

portrait Stijn van Els, © Rotterdam Hafen
© Rotterdam Hafen

Rotterdam is not only the largest port in Europe, it is playing a key role in the German hydrogen strategy. Stijn van Els has been working since January 2020 as director of commercial delivery at the port, which belongs 70 percent to the municipality of Rotterdam and 30 percent to the Netherlands. After studying at a German Hochschule, van Els studied physics in Delft and then started as an engineer at Shell. He’s been working around the world for 30 -years and in Hamburg as head of Shell Germany. H2-international spoke with him about the role of the port for the European hydrogen economy.

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Establishment of a hydrogen economy in Baden-Württemberg

The areas of activity of Plattform H2BW, © Plattform H2BW
The areas of activity of Plattform H2BW, © Plattform H2BW

How can hydrogen find greater use as an energy carrier? What opportunities are available for regional companies, and where will support be offered? To provide answers to these and other questions and thus contribute to the establishment of a local hydrogen economy, the federal state Baden-Württemberg (BW) has created Plattform H2BW. Since spring 2021, regional skills and expertise in the field of hydrogen and fuel cell technology have been bundled under the umbrella of this platform and will be promoted further as such in the future.

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Debut of stationary hydrogen engines?

MAN - engine operated with up to 25 percent hydrogen
engine operated with up to 25 percent hydrogen © MAN

The whole world is talking about the imminent end of combustion engines, on possible bans on oil and diesel combustion engines. But what about hydrogen motors, especially for stationary applications? In the German-speaking domain, companies such as 2G and Innio are particularly active in this sector. Globally, companies like Wärtsilä and MAN are also pushing for this technology route.

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Policy instruments for market introduction

chart with requirement of green hydrogen in different sectors, © Agora Energiewende
© Agora Energiewende 2021

The think tank Agora Energiewende in a joint study with the consulting firm Guidehouse analyzed the most important policy instruments for introduction of green hydrogen to the market. Along the route to climate neutrality in 2045, Germany needs 60 terawatt-hours of CO2-free hydrogen already by 2030, mainly for the development of a climate-neutral industry and security of electrical supply (Prognos et al. 2021). To promote the expansion of hydrogen production through renewables in an economically prudent way, financial resources should flow primarily to areas where future markets for green hydrogen are indisputably being created. So far, renewable green hydrogen is not yet competitive with hydrogen generated from fossil fuels, which is mostly produced by steam reforming of natural gas.

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No hydrogen imports from Morocco

In 2020 there was much talk of low-cost green hydrogen being readily imported from Morocco. Mooted in the country’s favor were its copious supply of solar energy, its connectivity to Europe via Gibraltar as well as its relative political stability. As of summer 2021 that has not been entirely the case. The sun is still shining but diplomatic relations have become frosty.

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