New Zealand and Germany begin energy dialogue on hydrogen projects

New Zealand and Germany are intensifying their cooperation in the field of hydrogen. Both countries want to significantly expand the production and use of hydrogen in order to achieve climate goals and decarbonise their economies. A look back at a recent webinar.

06/12/2021

The magic formula is “H2”: renewable hydrogen, the stuff of which green dreams are made. In the future, Germany and New Zealand intend to use hydrogen to make their energy, industrial and transport infrastructure climate neutral and energy efficient. Now the countries plan to increase their bilateral cooperation.

The virtual kick-off event for the German-New Zealand hydrogen partnership took place on 17 November 2021. Along with the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the New Zealand Embassy in Berlin, and the German-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce (AHK), adelphi organised the first public “German-New Zealand Energy Dialogue”. The information and networking event focussed on the funding guidelines for international green hydrogen projects recently published by the BMWi.

Germany's national hydrogen strategy

Despite the geographical distance and substantial time difference, Franziska Teichmann, Senior Manager at adelphi and Head of the German Secretariat for Energy Cooperation with Australia and New Zealand in Sydney, along with Erin Daly, Head of Consulting, and Iris Heinz, Senior Consultant at the AHK, were excited to welcome the participants. After a short introduction, adelphi's energy expert presented Germany's National Hydrogen Strategy (NWS). According to the BMWi, the federal government wants to use the strategy to create a “framework for the future generation, transport and use of hydrogen as well as corresponding innovations and investment” along the entire value chain. The NWS intends to achieve the following:

  • Establish hydrogen technologies as core elements of the energy transition and create regulatory prerequisites for their market ramp-up,
  • Strengthen German companies and their competitiveness with research, development and technology exports, and
  • Secure and shape the national supply of CO2-free hydrogen and its derivatives.

Germany currently produces around 55 terawatt hours (TWh) of hydrogen per year. Since this is mainly made from natural gas and has high greenhouse emissions, it is typically known as “grey” hydrogen. A climate-friendly energy transition, however, urgently requires large amounts of green hydrogen, produced by electrolysis using renewable energy. For this reason, the BMWi and BMBF announced funding guidelines for the financial support of international hydrogen projects at the beginning of October. These guidelines are intended to promote German technologies abroad, support the establishment of a global market and prepare for imports. They are “a central element in the implementation of the National Hydrogen Strategy. In addition to a strong domestic market, we are also relying on pilot projects in partner countries. Here, green hydrogen and its secondary products can be generated efficiently and inexpensively,” said former Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier at the time.

Hīkina Whakatutuki and his H2 vision

The New Zealand government also sees hydrogen as a versatile energy source, energy store and essential element of sector coupling. Over two years ago, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) – “Hīkina Whakatutuki” in Māori  – presented a green paper, “A vision for hydrogen in New Zealand”. In it, the MBIE identifies potential areas of application such as seasonal electricity storage, decentralised electricity generation, the heating sector, the chemical industry and transport. After an initial overview of the supply and demand of hydrogen, the second step in the New Zealand roadmap is the design a blueprint for the development of a hydrogen industry, said Suzannah Toulmin. Part of the MBIE, she promotes New Zealand's energy policy.

 “We are currently in the second phase of our roadmap. In other words, we are modelling potential scenarios and key factors for a future hydrogen economy,” says Toulmin. The results are intended to inform and inspire political decision-makers as well as foreign and domestic investors. The initial green hydrogen projects are already underway in the country: “Halcyon Power”, for example, is the name of the first carbon-free hydrogen production plant that will soon go into operation in the centre of the North Island. A facility for the production and refuelling of hydrogen is also being built at the major international container and trading ports of Auckland. In addition, New Zealand plans to invest in hydrogen-powered port equipment, buses and cars – for example, the country road tested the first hydrogen vehicles in a partnership South Korean automaker Hyundai.

The hydrogen market in the near future

The New Zealand government is currently promoting numerous research and development projects as well as international cooperation in this area. Close collaboration with Japan and Singapore or organisations such as the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are prominent examples. Given that Germany and New Zealand share the vision of a low-emission, climate-resilient future, there is great interest in bilateral cooperation on the part of both governments.

During the webinar, Julia Schellhaas, the Deputy Head of Bilateral Energy Cooperation at the BMWi, presented the funding guidelines, application requirements and objectives of the programme. The funding volume for the period up to the end of 2024 amounts to 350 million euros. In addition to companies outside the EU and the EFTA states, research and scientific institutions can also apply for the non-repayable investment grants. The German research organisation Projektträger Jülich (PtJ) is providing support for the implementation of the research and innovation funding programme on behalf of the BMWi and BMBF. Erik Busche and Martin Wiesenmayer, research assistants at PtJ, were available to webinar participants for questions.  

After a presentation by Carola Kantz, Deputy Managing Director of the “Power-to-X for Applications” working group of the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), the virtual attendees had the opportunity to network in smaller digital rooms. This concluded the event aimed at facilitating collaboration and hydrogen projects between New Zealand and German organisations. Incidentally, the last federal government assumed that a global and European hydrogen market would develop in the next ten years. This will probably be urgently needed, because it also predicted that Germany will have a hydrogen requirement of 90 to 110 TWh by 2030. Hopefully, that hydrogen will be sustainable – i.e. green.

More information is available here.

Contact person: Franziska Teichmann.