Germany’s Minister of Economic and Climate Affairs Robert Habeck and his Indian counterpart R.K. Singh have signed an agreement on German-Indian hydrogen cooperation following multiple rounds of consultations.
While gaining independence from Russian bicarbonate fuels is underway, the Germans have turned towards importing a new kind of molecule to fuel their industry and chemical processes: green hydrogen, created by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen through electrolysis.
“The expansion of green hydrogen production and application will serve the common long-term goal of driving the ramp-up of green hydrogen, making it commercially viable,” explained Habeck.
Ensuring the ramp-up of green hydrogen production and applications has also become one of the missions of Habeck’s colleague, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who had been championing a concept of “hydrogen diplomacy” in parallel with more in-depth energy partnerships administered by the foreign and economy ministry.
“As part of our energy partnership with India, we have agreed to work together in more depth on developing innovative solutions for sustainable green hydrogen production. An important milestone in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels,” he added.
Citing India’s fortuitous location for producing renewable energy, India could become a global player in exporting green hydrogen, Habeck’s economy and climate ministry explained in a press release.
The cooperation agreement aims to establish a task force to promote the creation of a close network between the government, industry and research institutes of both countries. Furthermore, a roadmap with specific joint measures to support the market ramp-up of green hydrogen will be developed.
Additionally, the task force will work on exchanging know-how on hydrogen regulation, norming, safety procedures and sustainability criteria- a project the EU continues to work on as well.
Whether this exchange will entail an export of rules from the world’s largest single market to the rising global power of India is uncertain.
Indian plans slowly coming to fruition
In 2021, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced his intention to make India a “Global Hub” for green hydrogen.
With India’s large population and its emissions expected to increase, the global climate finance drive could be a business opportunity for India. In exchange for aggressively lowering its emissions, India would be able to compete in the global renewables and hydrogen markets.
“It is India’s expectation that the world’s developed nations make $1 trillion available as climate finance as soon as possible,” Modi said in 2021, at the time of COP26, pointing to failed promises to provide $100 billion in annual climate financing beginning in 2020.
“Justice would demand that those nations that have not kept their climate commitments should be pressured,” he added then.
Berlin’s Asian hydrogen interests
The Germany-India hydrogen agreement is the second significant bit of hydrogen news coming out of Asia, following Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s trip to Japan at the end of April. During his inaugural visit to Asia, Scholz had reportedly pushed to have hydrogen cooperation on the agenda.
“Germany and Japan are already technology leaders in many areas when it comes to the energy transition. Within the framework of our energy partnership, we will further deepen this cooperation. Hydrogen plays a very decisive role in this, also for industrial use,” Scholz said in Tokyo on 28 April.
The odd one out now is China, with whom Germany has an energy partnership dating from the previous administration, but which has seen little activity following the publication of Germany’s hydrogen strategy in 2020.
At the heart of Germany’s hydrogen import ambitions is the government’s foundation H2Global, which will support the market ramp-up of hydrogen through contracts that prop up hydrogen trade by equalising the cost difference between hydrogen production and its sales price.
[Edited by Alice Taylor]