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21.06.2022

‘Everyone benefits from hydrogen as an energy source’

Frank Mischler works in Brussels to support the energy transition. In this interview, he reports on new developments and the potential role of GIZ.

Portrait von Frank Mischler

Russia’s attack on Ukraine has once again made clear how dependent the European Union (EU) is on oil and gas imports from Russia. The EU wants to further accelerate the transition to renewable energies, and the goal is for hydrogen to play an important role in this process.

In the Power-to-X (PtX) Hub, an international network for sharing knowledge on sustainable hydrogen production, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH advises partners from the public and private sector to implement the transition to a climate-neutral economy and industrial sector. GIZ is commissioned by the Federal Environment Ministry and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action.

Frank Mischler heads the Brussels office of the PtX Hub. In this interview, he reports on the EU’s plans to switch to hydrogen and the potential role of GIZ.

Mr Mischler, the energy policy situation in Europe has further increased the already significant interest in hydrogen. How could hydrogen be used as an energy source for the EU?

Hydrogen will not replace oil or gas completely as an energy source. Hydrogen can only be one component of the switch to renewable energies, albeit an important one. In May, the EU once again increased the targets for hydrogen use: the aim is now for 10 million tonnes of ‘green’ hydrogen to be produced from renewable energies within the EU by 2030. This requires around 40 gigawatts of renewable energy and corresponds to a quarter of the (onshore) wind energy currently generated in the EU. A further 10 million tonnes are to be imported into the EU. Green hydrogen can be produced in southern countries with good conditions for solar and wind energy, in particular. The countries south of the Mediterranean are therefore attractive partners for the EU. This switch will change the energy market significantly.

What role does GIZ play?

GIZ is an ideal partner for consolidating cooperation with developing countries and emerging economies. We have had a presence in these countries, for example in North Africa, for many years, and are familiar with the local conditions and contacts.

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How will the developing countries and emerging economies benefit?

At present, the transportation of unprocessed hydrogen is still expensive and inefficient. It is therefore quite likely that companies will set up production sites for processing at the locations where hydrogen is produced. At the same time, production gives the countries leverage to make their own economies climate neutral. When it comes to these developments, our local partners know that that we are aware of and represent their interests and develop solutions that also benefit them.

What steps are now needed for production to become a success for all concerned?

Right from the start, there must be binding criteria for sustainable production. These must clarify the impact of hydrogen production on the local energy supply, land use and environmental protection. In the PtX-Hub, we have already drawn up guidelines. Structured financing is also required, so that production can be set up quickly. For this purpose, the EU recently announced a new instrument, the Global European Hydrogen Facility. With the German H2Global support project, which promotes the production of green hydrogen (H2) and Power-to- X (PtX) products, GIZ has developed a similar instrument for the German Government. H2Global is now working with private-sector companies to conclude purchasing agreements with producers. What the EU financing instrument will look like has not yet been finalised, but we can also contribute our knowledge and experiences on this topic at European level.  

The EU Global European Hydrogen Facility financing instrument will also be the focus of the GIZ panel discussion on 21 June at the European Development Days (EDD), Europe’s leading forum for development cooperation. Frank Mischler will be chairing the panel, the motto of which is ‘Energy Security for the North and Economic Opportunity for the South’. For more information about the event, click here.