Contrary to what was originally intended, the federal government does not want to participate in the planned German hydrogen network company for the time being. This means that the ideas for partial nationalisation, which would have included the networks, are off the table. In addition, other types of hydrogen than just the "green" variant produced from renewable energies will be accepted in the future.

Christian Geinitz

Business correspondent in Berlin

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For a transitional period, in addition to "blue" and "turquoise" hydrogen from natural gas, "orange" hydrogen from waste will also be permitted. In all three cases, however, the carbon dioxide must be captured and injected (CCS technology). These changes result from the revised draft for the further development of the National Hydrogen Strategy from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, which is available to the F.A.Z.

This was preceded by a round of state secretaries and the departmental coordination with the other ministries, some of which announced considerable requests for changes. Originally, a draft bill from the house of Robert Habeck (Greens) had contained the passage that "a hydrogen network company with state participation" was to be founded in order to ensure the expansion and financial viability of the lines.

Lindner's ministry intervened

Following the intervention of the Ministry of Finance, the reference to the public sector was removed. However, the house of Christian Lindner (FDP) could not prevail by removing the paragraph that the grid company should buy the hydrogen and the natural gas pipelines to be converted in the medium term in order to implement the planning and construction of "a Germany-wide target network for hydrogen transport in 2030". The acquisition by the new company should continue to be possible, but without state participation.

Society, however, remains a bone of contention. Katherina Reiche, chairwoman of the National Hydrogen Council of the Federal Government, told the F.A.Z. that more speed is needed in the hydrogen ramp-up: "Discussions about grid companies specifically intended for this purpose have exactly the opposite effect: they paralyze." The development of the infrastructure must be carried out in line with the market. "Anything else could block much-needed private-sector investment from the energy industry."

Inga Posch, head of the Association of Transmission System Operators Gas, is also against the company. "It is to be feared that their construction will further delay the construction of the hydrogen network and that the transformation of the gas infrastructure will not be efficient and optimized, thus creating inefficient duplicate structures," she said.

As far as the "colour theory" on hydrogen is concerned, the new text sees the need "to also use low-carbon hydrogen produced from waste or natural gas in conjunction with CCS". If the colour is not explicitly mentioned, all the types mentioned are permissible. This is a compromise between the ministries led by the SPD and the Greens and the liberal ones. For example, the Ministry of Finance wanted to permanently enable the import of blue hydrogen, as this would be justifiable in terms of climate policy if the producing country subjects methane emissions to emissions trading. The Ministry of the Environment of Steffi Lemke (Greens), on the other hand, is "in principle" against the import of blue hydrogen, as the change requests show.