Nordic hydrogen pipelines now for sale in Berlin
"I am here to hear about your new hydrogen projects," says Philipp Steinberg, head of department at the German Ministry of Economic Affairs. The Swedish and Finnish hydrogen gas pipeline projects were presented in Berlin at the end of April. Many other countries are now organising similar events in Germany.
Olli Sipilä, CEO of Gasgrid Finland, and Hans Kreisel, CEO of Nordion Energi in Sweden, give figures to invited guests in Berlin: this is how much hydrogen will be produced in Sweden, Finland and other Baltic Sea countries at a low price in the future. An investment pot of up to hundreds of billions is being offered to the Germans.
German energy leaders have been invited as guests. The occasion has been billed as a parliamentary event, but it is also be attended by energy company people, representatives of the German government administration and German states, lobbyists, academics, consultants and the media. The main decision-maker here is Germany's Mr Hydrogen, Philipp Steinberg, Director of the department in charge of hydrogen in the Ministry of Economics and Technology and close associate of the Minister of Economics Robert Habeck. Kristina Haverkamp, Director of the German Energy Agency Dena, also takes the stage.
"I'm here to listen to what you have to say," says Steinberg, looking at the Nordics.
Everything north-east of Berlin is for sale
The event shows how things are done in the EU's biggest energy market. The aim is to bring the big companies from the northern shores of the Baltic together with German decision-makers, but the main host of the event is Sweden in its role as current EU president. Both Finnish Ambassador Anne Sipiläinen and Swedish Ambassador Per Thöresson will take turns to explain to the audience how suitable and reliable Finland and Sweden are as energy partners for Germany. The event will take place in the embassies' common premises and will be organised by their staff according to the needs of the guests. The event will be hosted by Stefan Kaufmann, Mr Hydrogen of the previous German government, who has now been recruited by Nordion.
During the event, also other Baltic Sea countries than the hosting countries are praised uninhibitedly. Here, an entire hydrogen economy area north-east of Berlin is for sale to Germany all at once. Nordion's CEO is smiling as he showcases the pipeline through the Baltic countries, in which Nordion is not involved, and it is important to Sipilä that hydrogen from Gotland and Bornholm also finds its way to German steelworks.
For buyers, the size of the package matters. German future hydrogen demand estimates are huge and growing at such a rapid pace that the German Ministry of Economics is no longer willing to publish precise estimates. Only those with enough resources to properly meet a large enough share of Germany's needs are dealt with here—individual countries, regions and companies are left to their own devices.
Olli Sipilä, CEO of Gasgrid Finland, explains what the Baltic Sea region can offer to the German hydrogen economy. There is enough renewable energy to produce hydrogen, plus biogenic CO2, for example.
A common energy system instead of solo players’ show
A member of the audience asks whether it would not be better to simply build new industry in the north rather than to import hydrogen into Germany. But not building hydrogen pipelines from Sweden to Germany makes as much sense as Sweden cutting its electricity cables to the outside world. The speakers stress the importance of building a complete energy system. Just as the amount of electricity on the grid will vary in the future, so will the amount of hydrogen produced from renewable energy. How much and where the hydrogen comes from depends on the weather. Instead, factories will need the hard-to-store hydrogen at their own pace, and the price should not fluctuate wildly in a market where a hydrogen exporter in the morning can be a hydrogen importer by the evening. Hydrogen pipelines will cut carbon emissions across the region and link different companies at different points in the value chain. Strict adherence to national concerns simply does not fit into this package.
Other salesmen are also converging in Berlin
Sales talk in Berlin has been heard almost to the point of saturation recently. Different regions now hold their own sales fairs here every few weeks. This is also related to the fact that Germany is right in the middle of Europe. If you want a pull market for the whole of Europe from any corner of Europe or further afield, you have to do it at the crossroads of all the emerging pipelines, in Germany. Steinberg says that almost every time his boss, Habeck, comes back from a trip, the minister brings a new hydrogen deal as a souvenir from somewhere.
A couple of times the Germans remind him how good progress has already been made with the Norwegians. With them, plans for hydrogen pipelines have advanced further. There are also agreements on hydrogen trade: first, Norway will supply Germany with hydrogen made from natural gas without emissions—which works fine for Berlin—and from there we will gradually move on to electrolysis hydrogen.
Sipilä stresses that the Baltic Sea region is not in competition with Norway. There are plenty of takers in the middle of Europe for any kind of emission-free hydrogen.
Haverkamp calls for coordination of the various European projects. It will be difficult at the crossroads if actors from different corners of Europe build pipelines according to different strategies, when all the networks have to be interconnected to create a large and reliable common energy system.
Germany needs hydrogen. Now is the time to coordinate the multitude of hydrogen projects. We need a well-functioning whole, says Kristina Haverkamp, head of the German Energy Agency Dena.
Let's talk about money
Haverkamp already knows how the story will unfold.
"In the end you have to discuss money," says Haverkamp, looking less exhilarated.
Foreigners usually want Germans not only to buy hydrogen and its derivates, but also to finance the construction work. The Nordics are no exception, and they point out that we are building for the 2040s and 2050s, and the vouchers for that need to be frontloaded.
However, Haverkamp is pleased that both Baltic Sea hydrogen pipelines are already in the process of applying for IPCEI status. IPCEI (Important Projects of Common European Interest) projects can receive EU funding on a large scale - with the aim of making the EU's new industrial strategy a reality.
Hans Kreisel, CEO of Nordion Energi, reminds the Germans that the Nordic countries are close, cheap and reliable as hydrogen producers—and there is plenty of capacity. Maps of the new hydrogen pipelines on display. Hydrogen products from the entire Baltic Sea region are for sale to German decision-makers.
The first hydrogen transmission network project in Finland proceeds to basic design stage:
Hydrogen pipelines from Finland to Germany.
Come and hear what Finland and Germany can offer each other when developing a hydrogen market at the seminar of the German-Finnish Chamber of Commerce AHK Finland in Helsinki on 9 May:
Swedish, Finnish and Estonian companies are being offered help to enter the German market. Read the interview with Oliver Weinmann, President of the German Hydrogen Association DWV, here >> https://www.both2nia.com/en/news/help-accessing-german-market
Original article published in Finnish in LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/suomen-vetyputket-myyd%25C3%25A4%25C3%25A4n-berliiniss%25C3%25A4-ruotsalaisten-kanssa-noronen