Interview on Germany's national hydrogen strategy

Hydrogen is the energy carrier of the future, and is expected to play a major role in mobility and the growth of clean, renewable energy. However, green hydrogen, i.e. hydrogen produced from renewable energies, is currently very expensive. The German government's national hydrogen strategy could now change this.

Heraeus is addressing many of the issues surrounding hydrogen, since precious metals will make a decisive contribution to the electrochemical production and use of hydrogen, as well as being an important component of chemical catalysts for the realization of new energy and raw material concepts.

We spoke with our expert on hydrogen, Christian Gebauer:

Christian Gebauer Heraeus Hydrogen Expert

Where do you see the chances of the new strategy?

With the “National Hydrogen Strategy”, the German Federal Government has set a clear direction for a raw material shift and energy transition, away from fossil raw materials and towards renewable energies and fuels, to combat climate change. The strategy has the potential to sustainably reduce the CO2 footprint of our industry and our daily life.

I welcome the fact that the Federal Government is focusing not only on the use of hydrogen in fuel cells, but also sees the potential of hydrogen and derived products as a diverse range of basic materials, energy carriers and energy storage devices.

The international orientation of the strategy is a further plus. Although Germany has the technology and know-how, it cannot produce enough green hydrogen on its own. It is therefore important that we cooperate closely with other countries in Europe (NL, Scandinavia, Ukraine) and Africa.

Where do you see challenges?

The “National Hydrogen Strategy” focuses on green hydrogen produced by electrolysis using renewable energies and provides for the transitional use of cheaper turquoise or blue hydrogen. At this, carbon or CO2 is produced, which must be stored. However, this can only be done on a transitional basis. It is therefore important that these less climate-friendly hydrogen types are used only temporarily, during the transition period and that investments in green hydrogen do not suffer from the less climate-friendly options.

An important aspect continues to be the promotion of basic and applied research in order to further develop technological aspects as well. However, it is always important not to leave the incentives created by this for industry-related or industry-relevant use at the project level. The 5 GW capacity by 2030 defined for electrolysis should be a clear sign of this, even if it could have been even more ambitious.