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Lion Hirth in Le Monde: Simply replacing fossil fuels with green hydrogen will be costly

The Professor of Energy Policy comments on the government’s push for green hydrogen.

In a piece by French newspaper Le Monde on Germany’s rapid development of the LNG terminal in Wilhelmshaven, Lion Hirth stressed the realities of a future transition to green hydrogen.  

"The idea that we can simply replace fossil fuels with green hydrogen in equal quantities - in cars, heating systems, power generation - has always been an illusion. The bubble is slowly bursting. The role of green hydrogen will be much smaller than that of fossil fuels today, because it's much more expensive” says Hirth.  

Wilhelmshaven, a small town on the coast of the North Sea, has been operating Germany’s first LNG terminal since 2022. The energy crisis, incited by Russia’s war on Ukraine, forced Germany to prioritize security of supply and invest in its LNG capacity. In Wilhelmshaven, the terminal receives LNG through vessels coming from Angola, Norway, Nigeria and most frequently, the United States. The LNG is then regasified in the facility, before being injected into the European onshore gas grid.  

Since the terminal played a role in Germany overcoming the gas crisis in the winter of 2022 without major shortages, the Mayor of Wilhelmshaven aims to make the town a major hub for renewable energy, including green hydrogen. According to the mayor, energy companies have announced their intention to locate on the site. 

However, Hirth is skeptical of these ambitions. "There won't be a large hydrogen network running under every street in Germany, as there is for gas today, but probably a few pipelines near major industrial sites, supplying a few power stations and hydrogen-powered chemical plants", he estimates. Therefore, trying to replace gas equally with green hydrogen will be an expensive feat. 

Read the article via Le Monde (in French). 

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