Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

Plans for huge hydrogen pipeline to UK could harness billion pound economy boost

Britain and Germany are in talks about building a 400 mile long pipeline under the North Sea to carry hydrogen to mainland Europe.

Two people familiar with the discussions have said Germany’s Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck raised the idea with Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch during a meeting earlier this month.

Berlin has its eyes on British hydrogen as it searches for ways to reach net zero and break its dependence on fossil fuels.

Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine also pushed Germany into finding the means of breaking its reliance on Russian gas.

According to Politico, the pipeline idea is at an early stage, with a route either going straight from Britain to Germany or flowing via Norway.

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Germany is betting on hydrogen fuel to decarbonize industries such as steel, cement and chemicals, which are highly polluting sectors but cannot be easily electrified.

The country’s Cabinet approved a new hydrogen strategy in July which outlined guidelines for hydrogen production, transport infrastructure and plans for a market.

Politico reports that Berlin is keen to see a feasibility study carried out over the UK-Germany pipeline while the UK’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero wants to understand what the options are.

Britain would harness its offshore wind reserves to produce the hydrogen which would then be pumped under the North Sea to Germany.

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British Energy Minister Martin Callanan visited Germany in September, signing a joint declaration of intent with the German government.

Both countries are believed to have pledged to work together to boost production and trade in hydrogen.

Scotland has been tipped as a possible site for the UK side of the pipeline, with the Scottish government awarding £200,000 to Aberdeen’s Net Zero Technology Centre to look into the feasibility of an export route from Scotland.

A Government spokesperson said Britain wants to play a key role in exporting hydrogen to other countries, including in Europe, where it sees increased demand for hydrogen alongside already established energy trading and interconnections with the UK.

They added: “We recently signed a Hydrogen Partnership with Germany which will enhance cooperation and share expertise between the two countries. We look forward to agreeing the next steps under the partnership.”

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Berlin expects to import up to 70 percent of the hydrogen it says it will need with a 6,000 mile long core network being a major part of its infrastructure for the green fuel.

The network will be connected to Germany’s neighbours, including Denmark, Norway and Spain.

FNB Gas Chairman Thomas Goessmann told a news conference earlier this month existing natural gas pipelines will make up 60 percent of that network.

Mr Habeck said: “We all know that we have no time to lose and that the first hydrogen must flow as early as 2025.”

He added the excavators have to roll next year.

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