Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector as quickly as possible is key to keep the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. Besides a swift roll-out of renewable generating capacity, this also includes accelerating the introduction of hydrogen as an energy source and storage option. In a meeting with more than thirty members of parliament and their consultants, Prof. Dr. Robert Schlögl of the Max-Planck-Institute and Prof. Dr. Gunnar Luderer of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research discussed the opportunities of this molecular energy resource for various sectors of the economy that struggle with direct electrification as a renewable option, but also highlighted the challenges of implementation. Prof. Schlögl emphasised that time for switching to renewable energy resources was quickly running out. It was not for the lack of technologies and research that the implementation of hydrogen was lagging behind. We should rather focus on putting known solutions to work to keep our climate targets. Prof. Luderer emphasised a merit order of hydrogen implementation, focusing on those sectors that could not switch to renewable energies because direct electrification was simply no option. Even optimistic calculations on the availability of hydrogen would show that the resource would remain scarce at least until 2030. Meanwhile, both the European and German climate targets were ambitious: The hydrogen strategy of the EU would require annual growth rates of up to 90%.
The discussion also shed light on the international dimension of hydrogen, both in the European energy market and regarding potential new import relations with countries with favourable weather and production conditions. Potential synergies were also discussed: When producing hydrogen from non-renewable sources, the resulting carbon by-products could emerge as a solid matter. In the form of “terra preta”, this could even be a valuable resource in the agricultural sector. Across all topics, one message was clear: energy prices would have to speak the ecological truth from now on. The cost of harming the climate should no longer be mutualised but rather be attributed to its origin. Renewable energies, whether in direct electrification or in the production of hydrogen, would then no longer compete in a skewed market, where the cost of fossil fuels was tipped in their favour.
This was a joint event of the Dialogue on Climate Economics and the KOPERNIKUS Project ARIADNE, both supported by research grants of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF).