As the Federal Government’s Hydrogen Commissioner, I am committed to a future technology that will have a decisive impact on our lives in the coming decades. On 19 June 2020, the then Federal Minister of Education and Research, Anja Karliczek, appointed me Innovation Commissioner “Green Hydrogen” of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the implementation of the Federal Government’s National Hydrogen Strategy. In this function, I am a permanent guest of the State Secretaries’ Committee for Hydrogen of the ministries involved and of the National Hydrogen Council. I am responsible for the orientation of the BMBF’s research and development activities as well as their transfer into practice in cooperation with the actors from politics, industry and science involved in their implementation. In addition, I am also responsible for bringing promising innovative approaches and impulses from research into the political arena and the public debate.
What is it about?
Germany is to become the world’s number 1 hydrogen country. Because
Germany – like many other countries worldwide – has set itself great goals: We want to and must already be greenhouse gas neutral by 2045 – i.e. we must get from around 750 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year in Germany today to zero. By 2030, emissions are to be reduced by 65 percent.
How do we achieve these climate goals as quickly as possible?
With green hydrogen and the expansion of renewable energies! A hydrogen infrastructure is needed in Germany and Europe for the production, transport and storage of hydrogen (electrolysers, hydrogen pipelines, ports, caverns, etc.). And it needs international supply agreements to secure the enormous future demand for hydrogen. I work on this every day – in Stuttgart, Berlin and worldwide.
Why do we need green hydrogen? What does it have to do with our everyday lives?
- In transport: as a climate-neutral energy source, e.g. in heavy goods transport or rail and shipping), but also in individual transport. The combustion engine becomes a fuel cell drive. The advantage of the fuel cell is that water comes out of the exhaust and not climate-damaging gas! The transition of technologies will be gentle. By the way: E-fuels (synthetic paraffin, for example) are also produced from green hydrogen and can power aircraft or other engines in a climate-neutral way.
- In industry: in the production of green steel (e.g. for sheet metal for cars, scooters, etc.), green cement or green aluminium. This provides a boost to innovation and maintains and creates new jobs. Thanks to green hydrogen, we can keep our energy-intensive industries in Germany!
Do we have enough time?
Do we have sufficient time? I point this out anew every day in many interwies and speeches. The first projects are underway. More than 15 billion euros in federal funds are already available. And there will be more funding to come.
Why green is not always green?
The Greens do not want green hydrogen in cars, for example, and focus only on purely battery-electric drives, even for larger vehicles. There are still many unanswered questions about pure e-cars (securing raw materials and disposal of environmentally harmful lithium batteries, charging infrastructure, e.g. in densely populated inner cities, range and, above all, questions of value creation). According to studies, fuel cell cars have emission advantages and are more efficient. And: they secure jobs and value creation in Germany. This is because a fuel cell drive is many times more complex than a pure electric motor and thus contributes to mastering the difficult transformation process in the automotive industry.