Using wind and solar power from post-EEG (Renewable Energy Sources Act) plants for green hydrogen mobility

GP JOULE writes open letter to EU Commission

Reußenköge/Berlin, 26 May 2021
More and more solar and wind plants are reaching the end of their subsidy period under the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG). The green electricity they generate is to be freely marketed in future. One possible use for this would be to produce green hydrogen as a fuel. This could also finally reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the area of transport. This plan now threatens to fail due to a new regulation of the EU Commission, which was actually only going to regulate the technical details around the prescribed greenhouse gas reductions in transport. However, an informal draft currently circulating goes far beyond this - and could even jeopardise the development of a Green Hydrogen Economy as a whole. GP JOULE - Managing Director Ove Petersen has therefore written an open letter to EU Climate Action Commissioner Frans Timmermans.

Green fuels are essential for building the hydrogen economy

The eFarm project in North Frisia was the blueprint, and meanwhile more and more regions are working on establishing a green hydrogen economy. They all have one thing in common: Filling stations for green hydrogen. These are an important factor in ensuring that the whole process also works out economically. By offering only green hydrogen, filling station operators exceed their own climate target. They can therefore additionally sell certificates to other companies. These certificates ensure that green energy is more valuable than energy generated from fossil sources. They are therefore an important driver of the energy turnaround. The EU has recognised this and wants to regulate the technical details for the recognition of green hydrogen with the new regulation. But in doing so, it gets in the way of another goal that is also meaningful in its own right.

Hydrogen to be produced from "additional" green electricity

To ensure that the development of the green hydrogen economy does not come at the expense of the share of renewable energies in the electricity sector, the EU wants to ensure that only "additional" green electricity is used for this purpose. "This is politically understandable," confirms Ove Petersen. But the EU wants to ensure this "additionality" by excluding old wind and solar parks from supplying the electrolysers. "That is counterproductive," says Petersen. This would eliminate a relatively cheap source of electricity for the hydrogen market that is just emerging. What is more: "Electrolysers for hydrogen production can use green electricity from the post-EEG plants specifically at times when it cannot find any other customers in the electricity market or the electricity grid is at capacity. If this is prevented, in the worst case even paid-off wind and solar parks will become uneconomical and therefore shut down. Then the bottom line is that there won’t be more green electricity available, but less," Petersen explains.

Regulation contradicts the demand for market integration

Furthermore, the planned regulation contradicts the goal of integrating renewable energies into the electricity market, also with regard to the aspect of time. "It is not the case that a particular wind turbine would always supply a particular electrolyser. Rather, supply and demand are matched every quarter of an hour. This flexible market integration will become increasingly important as the share of wind and solar power grows," explains Petersen. "All in all, the EU Commission's regulation contains a lot of good, but it has not yet been thought through to the end in all points and should still be improved at this point - also and above all in the sense of the EU's future hydrogen plans and climate goals," he says, adding: "If you want additional green electricity, it’s no good to make life more difficult for the operators of existing plants. For additional wind and solar power, we rather need better investment conditions for new plants - here there is still room for improvement."

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Founded in 2009 based on the belief that a 100% renewable energy supply is feasible, GP JOULE is now a system provider for integrated energy solutions from solar, wind and biomass power as well as being a partner at the supply level for electricity, heat, hydrogen and electromobility. A pioneer in the area of sectoral cross-linkage, the medium-sized company group has a workforce of over 350 employees at sites in Germany, Europe and North America. GP JOULE holds the 2019 Schleswig-Holstein Business Environmental Award.

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