An ambitious hydrogen pipeline project will likely be the foundation of Germany and Norway’s “green” partnership, which builds on their long-term relationship as fossil energy suppliers and buyers.
It was the second time in as many years that German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck visited Oslo, an unusual frequency for a typical German minister.
In March 2022, Habeck’s top priority was ensuring Germany’s gas supply. Now, he focuses on the future partnership between the two countries.
According to Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stre on 5 January, Norway and Germany have agreed to establish a “Strategic Partnership on Climate, Renewable Energy and Green Industry”.
By forming an intra-EU alliance, this would entail closer cooperation on hydrogen, offshore wind, batteries, carbon capture and storage, green shipping, microelectronics, and raw materials.
But gas was Germany’s top priority, both for burning and as a feedstock.
On the way to a climate-neutral future, Norway must remain our most important energy supplier, Habeck said on Thursday (5 January).
Currently, we import most of our natural gas from Norway, but in the future we will increasingly import offshore wind energy and hydrogen.
He explained that initially hydrogen would be produced from natural gas, where the emissions are stored, resulting in “blue” hydrogen. Renewable electricity, on the other hand, is emission-free and considered “green”.
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In order to accomplish this, we need to build a European grid and hydrogen infrastructure and boost production, according to the German minister.
In March 2022, Habeck tentatively envisioned the construction of a hydrogen pipeline between Germany and Norway, the cheapest way to transport the elusive gas across long distances.
There was then an agreement between the two sides to conduct a feasibility study, with results expected in Spring 2023. However, since the study is expected to be ongoing, the outcome appears to be political in nature.
It is in my opinion that hydrogen should be pipeline bound, since this gives us better prices and the assurance that we will remain partners,” said Habeck.
After passing offshore wind farms, the pipeline would funnel hydrogen onto the mainland in German Frisia. It would then be distributed into the yet-to-be-constructed German hydrogen pipeline grid.
The two parties agree that the large-scale transport of hydrogen between Norway, Germany, and the EU will be based on solid technical and financial foundations.
Two of the world’s leading energy companies signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop large-scale energy value chains, including a hydrogen pipeline, on the same day.
Habeck seems convinced that a pipeline would be an effective commitment device, given that it would be one of Europe’s longest.
“We stay together in the same infrastructure and projects,” he said, adding that “no one needs to be worried” that their partner is looking elsewhere for energy suppliers.
In spite of its length, the longest network of hydrogen pipelines in Europe is located in Belgium, where Air Liquide distributes hydrogen to the chemical industry. Their network is far from being one continuous pipe, but instead resembles a spider web.
Depending on the routing, the new Germany-Norway pipeline could unseat the current frontrunner, according to EURACTIV.