Why I am passionate about a hydrogen economy

Why I am passionate about a hydrogen economy

Germany experienced the worst drought ever recorded in the history of the nation’s weather records, last year (2018). The forecasts for the future are extremely negative. Rising temperatures and other droughts have already been predicted.

Now in June-July 2019 we have the hottest summer ever in the history of the BR Germany, with 42ºC heat and another drought in sequence. Already 45-46ºC temperatures are predicted for the future.

Due to dramatic climate changes and rapidly emerging energy shortages in Europe, the EU and the German government recognise that hydrogen is the only energy source capable of solving all energy problems. Sure, it is no silver bullet, but it can be used to decarbonise the energy system, and thus contribute immensely to climate protection.

The Federal Republic of Germany founded a Climate Cabinet in the spring of 2019. The individual political parties are negotiating a comprehensive package to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in Germany faster and achieve the EU’s climate protection goals quicker than those of the Paris Agreement.

All areas where energy is needed will be assessed and subject to change in the future. From the transport sector to industrial sector, and domestic energy; thus, diesel and gasoline, heating oil and natural gas and coal will all be subject to change.

“It is against this kind of backdrop that I am so passionate about hydrogen energy and the ‘hydrogen economy’. I cannot see how we can move forward without it, worldwide…”

Everything now in Germany seems to be going very fast along the direction of Climate protection with hydrogen. You only have to look at some of the recent rhetoric to this end.

On 27thJune, the Ministry of Energy and Economy Peter Altmaier, said, “Hydrogen technologies offer enormous potential for both climate protection and new jobs.” Altmaier also announced a federal hydrogen strategy for September this year.

On 18thJuly, Minister Altmaier said, “We want to become the world’s best in hydrogen.” On the same day, the political party the ‘Greens’ discovered ‘green hydrogen’ and in its report, the six authors outlined the role they aim to attach to green hydrogen in the future, and The Federal Ministry of the Environment also revealed it is now thinking in the direction of green hydrogen.

In addition, the federal government quickly will launch new regulations. It had the most difficult task: to work out solutions for climate protection within just a few months when, on the whole, the problems are more complex than ever for local communities and governments on the one hand, and for companies on the other. However, the first signs of a re-thinking are already visible.

Re-thinking and renewable impulses

Germany, and especially the province of North Rhine-Westphalia, the most populous federal state, are at the centre of these new developments and are recognised not only in Europe, but also worldwide for their strong activities in research, development and the market introduction of hydrogen and fuel cells, as well as electric batteries.

The state government of North Rhine-Westphalia has set up various expert groups that have been actively developing solutions for broad national and international use of hydrogen fuel cells for many years.

It is against this kind of backdrop that I am so passionate about hydrogen energy and the ‘hydrogen economy’. I cannot see how we can move forward without it, worldwide.

A good example of the potential in a hydrogen economy is the Bonn Climate Project in Germany, a testbed of the hydrogen energy value chain since its formation in 2000. Even back then, it could already be foreseen that only water/hydrogen, unlike all other sources of energy, can be used for climate protection. Hydrogen-based energy supply is much more economical and efficient compared to fossil fuels which are not regenerative and have high CO2 emissions, rendering them not as cost-effective.

As a Bonn-based entrepreneur who works on international projects, I understand the need to establish a link between the Bonn Climate Project and the UN Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC) in order to develop a holistic approach to using hydrogen for climate change mitigation. This is the only way through which it can be made economically viable and be used to accelerate energy access in developing countries with barely any energy infrastructure.

“It is not the single technology nor the individual drive that determines the success of hydrogen,  but the ‘thinking through’ of a society and economy that are based on hydrogen…”

With this background, I have been actively involved in climate protection issues for years. I advise the UNFCCC and some African and Arab governments from my Climate Technology Centre in Bonn, and have been an advocate of holistic approaches for years. It is not the single technology nor the individual drive that determines the success of hydrogen,  but the ‘thinking through’ of a society and economy that are based on hydrogen.

Germany and the areas of North Rhine-Westphalia and Bonn in particular are spreading just these kind of impulses, especially in climate protection, worldwide. The UNFCCC also sets international standards, known as the Carbon Development Mechanism (CDM). It is clear that the UN City of Bonn is increasingly operating in the field of climate protection with the CTC Bonn, not only nationally but also internationally, and thereby attaining an outstanding position.

In addition, the Bonn Climate Project is a multi-faceted climate project that is fully developed and formulated.

Because of the holistic approach I have been pursuing for years, I have had an exchange with a large number of experts from a wide range of technical fields, universities, politicians, research institutes, political institutions and organisations. From my point of view, and the networking of the experts from all sectors, only holistic and internationally feasible concepts in climate protection with hydrogen can be developed with the required international standardisation.

This is all the more true with regard to the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) as defined in the Kyoto Protocol. Only then, can hydrogen economy  and the overall climate protection succeed internationally. I would like to contribute to that! And it increasingly seems that investors, private companies and governments globally feel the same.

There is no alternative to using hydrogen for climate protection; nor to collaborating with the Bonn Climate Project/CTC Bonn. Climate change and its ensuing measures require a lot of effort, money; and above all the right solutions. Therefore, a meaningful project, which will be perceived worldwide as a model for complete technological change, is particularly important – and that’s what we’re working on. We can already see the great steps towards a hydrogen economy in Germany.

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