ARKANSAS, Nov 15 (Future Headlines)- Germany is set to make a substantial investment of approximately €20 billion ($21 billion) in a hydrogen infrastructure network that spans over 9,700 km (6,000 miles) by 2032. The ambitious project aims to establish a robust core network for hydrogen fuel, leveraging existing natural gas pipelines for 60% of the network. Thomas Goessmann, Chairman of FNB Gas, the transmission system operator leading the project, revealed these details during a news conference held with Economy Minister Robert Habeck.

The estimated cost of the hydrogen network is approximately €20 billion, signaling a substantial investment in Germany’s decarbonization efforts. The project will be privately financed, emphasizing the commitment of various stakeholders to advancing hydrogen infrastructure.

Construction is scheduled to commence next year, with an urgent focus on ensuring the first hydrogen flows by 2025. The urgency is underscored by the imperative to address climate goals and reduce greenhouse gas emissions promptly.

Germany’s emphasis on hydrogen aligns with its strategy to address emissions from industries that are challenging to electrify, such as steel and chemicals. The government’s commitment to hydrogen reflects its vision for a cleaner energy future, reducing reliance on imported fossil fuels.

The planned network is approximately three times larger than the expected demand in 2030, indicating a forward-looking approach to accommodate future growth. The expected demand in 2030 is projected to be around 100 terawatt hours, roughly a tenth of Germany’s annual gas consumption before the 2022 energy crisis.

The hydrogen network is positioned to serve as the core of Europe’s hydrogen grid, fostering connectivity with neighboring countries such as Denmark, Norway, and Spain. Germany anticipates importing up to 70% of its hydrogen needs, reducing dependency while contributing to a more interconnected European energy landscape.

The government plans to evaluate the network’s progress every two years, allowing for adaptive measures based on evolving demands and technological advancements. Regular assessments underscore a commitment to flexibility and responsiveness in the rapidly evolving hydrogen landscape.

The cost of the hydrogen lines is expected to be covered by user fees. However, given the relatively limited number of users initially, the government will provide advance payments over the next two decades to ensure affordability and support the growth of the hydrogen economy. Initial user fees are envisaged to be uniform to prevent competition distortion, promoting a level playing field for all customers.

A government bill to expedite the expansion of hydrogen infrastructure is anticipated later this year, demonstrating a legislative commitment to driving the hydrogen transition. The forthcoming bill is expected to address the financing and regulatory aspects of the hydrogen network.

The cabinet is scheduled to convene to discuss the financing and regulation of the network, highlighting the high-level attention and importance assigned to this strategic initiative. Germany’s ambitious investment in a comprehensive hydrogen infrastructure underscores its commitment to sustainable energy solutions, decarbonization, and fostering innovation in the hydrogen sector. The scale, scope, and integrated approach of the project position it as a pivotal element in Germany’s and Europe’s transition toward a more sustainable and interconnected energy future.

Reporting by Kevin Wood; Editing by Sarah White