Approaches for a Hydrogen Acceleration Act

The decarbonization of the energy system requires a considerable demand for green hydrogen and its derivatives. This demand cannot be met solely through domestic production. According to the draft for the update of the national hydrogen strategy, which was made public on February 24, it is stated that due to limited domestic production potentials, the majority of the demand must be covered through imports of hydrogen and its derivatives on a permanent basis. According to the assessment of the German government, between 50 to 70 percent of the estimated hydrogen demand of 95 to 130 TWh will need to be met through imports by the year 2030. The import share is expected to increase further in the following years. To support these necessary imports, an import strategy is planned to be developed as a framework for market participants. In the initial phase (until 2030), most of the import is expected to be carried out by ship.

The high demand for imported green hydrogen requires corresponding import infrastructure. In the case of maritime transport, import terminals need to receive the incoming energy carrier and store it until distribution. These "H2 import terminals" do not exist yet. However, within the framework of the H2-Global funding program, the import of hydrogen-based energy carriers is already planned for 2024. The first import terminal for green ammonia is scheduled for 2026 in the port of Hamburg. The rapid implementation of an import infrastructure for hydrogen-based energy carriers requires not only planning but also the acceleration of the approval process for such projects. Similar to the establishment of LNG terminals, a corresponding import infrastructure needs to be built within a few years and synchronized with the arrival of hydrogen derivatives. In the long term, this can likely be achieved faster and more efficiently through the conversion of existing LNG terminals rather than building new ones. However, from a technical perspective, it is currently unclear to what extent the conversion of LNG terminals to hydrogen-based energy carriers is possible. Moreover, the existing legal framework hardly provides incentives for the timely conversion of LNG terminals. Therefore, legal instruments are needed to accelerate the realization of H2 import terminals.

Within the regulatory community of hydrogen flagship projects funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), investigations are currently underway to determine what these acceleration measures could look like. The community consists of members from research and industry who are working on short analyses to optimize the legal framework for green hydrogen. "In light of the need for legal acceleration measures in the establishment of a diversified H2 import infrastructure, as evident in the draft for the update of the National Hydrogen Strategy on February 24, 2023, we have intensively engaged with this topic in recent weeks," reports Cäcilia Gätsch, coordinator and co-author of the short analysis. The short analysis is expected to be addressed to the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) before the summer break and serve as a sound database for the planned Hydrogen Acceleration Act to be passed later this year. The investigated acceleration measures are oriented towards the provisions of the LNG Acceleration Act. While this act is legally controversial, the situation is different for the import of green hydrogen and its derivatives because their availability is a prerequisite for achieving the energy and climate transition.

[1] Revised draft for the further development of the National Hydrogen Strategy (NHS) after interdepartmental coordination, Berlin, February 24, 2023, p. 4.

[2] Revised draft for the further development of the National Hydrogen Strategy (NHS) after interdepartmental coordination, Berlin, February 24, 2023, p. 7 ff.

[3] This also includes hydrogen-based energy carriers based on renewable energies.

[4] (accessed on April 4, 2023).

[5] (accessed on May 17, 2023).

[6] Riemer/Schreiner/Wachsmuth (2022): Conversion of LNG Terminals for Liquid Hydrogen or Ammonia. Analysis of Technical Feasibility and Economic Considerations. Karlsruhe: Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI. The convertibility of LNG terminals will be examined by the LNG Association established within the framework of TransHyDe, aiming to develop a scientifically sound database as a decision basis for the sustainable and long-term use of LNG terminal sites as logistical hubs for hydrogen and its derivatives (H2 transport vectors).

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