German government presents strategy for hydrogen-capable power plants

by David Fleschen

New hydrogen-capable gas-fired power plants are to be built so that German industry can produce steel, cement and other energy-intensive products without CO2 emissions by 2045. The new gas-fired power plants are only to be operated with natural gas on a transitional basis.From 2035 to 2040, they are to switch from natural gas to green hydrogen.The exact conversion dates are to be set in 2032.

Federal Chancellor Scholz, Economics Minister Habeck and Finance Minister Lindner have agreed on the key elements of a new power plant strategy. Government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit emphasised on X: "With the power plant strategy, the federal government is paving the way for investments in a secure, climate-friendly power supply."

With its power plant strategy, the German government is ensuring that sufficient electricity is produced even when there is little solar and wind energy available. The new power plants are to be built at so-called "system-serving" locations, i.e. primarily at hubs to large energy-intensive industrial complexes.

The new power plant strategy is to be adopted by the Federal Cabinet by the summer at the latest. The agreement on the key elements lays the foundations for the necessary investments.The agreement on the power plant strategy creates the conditions for the energy industry to invest in new hydrogen-capable "H2-ready" gas-fired power plants. The plan is to invite tenders for new capacities of up to 4 x 2.5 gigawatts (GW) as "H2-ready" gas-fired power plants in the short term. The rapid tendering process is intended to kick-start the expansion of the hydrogen economy in good time.

The new power plants should initially be able to be operated with natural gas and later with all colours of hydrogen - preferably green hydrogen. From around 2035, they should be completely converted to hydrogen.

The Federal Ministry of Economics is working flat out on the new concepts required for the future electricity market. After all, renewable electricity should also be secure and affordable in the future. It is certain that the CO2 price for fossil, climate-damaging fuels such as coal and natural gas will continue to rise.

The German government is in talks with the EU Commission to create a capacity market for the future. It intends to present its concept by the summer. This capacity market is set to start in 2028. In order to secure the supply, the H2 power plants are to remain on standby for low-power hours in future.

The German government is open to other technologies in addition to hydrogen. It is also already supporting research and development, such as CCS (Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage) and nuclear fusion.

The expansion of wind and solar energy has gained significant momentum. In 2023, half of electricity consumption was already covered by renewable energies. Renewable energies are also playing an increasingly important role in electricity generation: their share of total electricity generated rose to 56 per cent in 2023.

The construction of new electricity grids is also making progress. The German government has laid the foundations for this in the last two years.

Source: German Federal Government, Photo: Fotolia

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