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Germany Turns to Hydrogen in Quest for Clean Energy Economy (bloomberg.com)
117 points by ekr 72 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 167 comments

It is often interesting how things are framed in international media when you know the local discussion.

To put this in perspective: The role of hydrogen in the German energy system is extremely small. There are a couple of test plants, but that's about it. Yeah, lately there have been a few calls for more investments in that area, some articles discussing a larger role in the future. But it's certainly not at the center of the debate. The headline seems heavily overblown.

There's also a few experimental train lines running on fuel cells, they seemed successful enough that more have been ordered.

Trains may be better candidates than cars. There are many non-electrified branch lines that currently run on diesel and you need far fewer gas stations that have to deal with hydrogen and all its problems.

> There's also a few experimental train lines running on fuel cells

Your wording is a bit funny, so let me clarify: That's an actual train line with actual passengers. More train lines will be converted from diesel to hydrogen soon.

BMW just appointed a new CEO who is supposed to come up with a strategy that apparently they expect to still involve hydrogen cars. They have been partnering with Toyota on hydrogen fuel cells. The last CEO kind of failed on the BEV front after launching the i3 and then failing to follow through with more/better cars. His failure on this front is widely cited as the key reason for being replaced as they are feeling the pressure now from other manufacturers (Tesla, VW, Mercedes, etc.). The new CEO is apparently under a lot of pressure to start announcing things that are not lame concept cars to reassure investors that they are still relevant.

I don't see a big hydrogen movement happening in Germany any time soon no matter what the wishful thinking on that is at BMW and elsewhere. What I do see is two of the three car manufacturers flooding the market with BEVs in the next five years. They've been a bit slow to catch up to Tesla but VW and Mercedes seem to be quite serious about ramping up production.

Too bad they didnt appoint new development director. Klaus Frölich: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaeltaylor/2019/06/27/bmw-sa...

"BMW's answer is to commit to continue building gasoline and diesel engines"

I have no idea why auto companies are still pursuing hydrogen cars when BEV is just better?

Because the power grid and city infrastructure do not allow for enough (fast) charging-points. In some European cities, for government BEV goals to be achieved, over 700 charging points have to be placed, every single day, for 5 years.

Now imagine a charging point using more electricity than your avarage household.

The grid is not ready for this and upgrading it might not be the best option.

Also know that there is up to 50% loss of electricity when transporting over long distances (like from wind-farm to the city).

Last, but not least: charging large vehicles like busses or trucks take a long time (and a lot of energy) time that is paid for by the company.

Now look at hydrogen: Produced and stored at decentralized locations, distributed through existing infrastructure, available at existing gas stations: Less stress on the grid, shorter charging times. Produce it where and when is most beneficial, store and transport it to when and where it is required.

I could go on. And probably somebody could go on with a lot of counter points.

However, this just states that 'BEV are just better', as you stated, is just not as simple as just that.

We are in a mobility and energy transition: Nothing about this is going to be easy.

Full disclosure: I operate both a corridor of electric car chargers and a hydrogen fueling station in Europe.

Can you explain how you can say "up to 50% loss of electricity when transporting over long distances"? That seems very high, and in my opinion disinformation.

The first search result I found [1] says an average of 6% among US states, broken down as 2% loss in high voltage transmission and 4% loss in local distribution. The spread among states is from 2.2% total loss to 13%, so even given that wind farms may not be sited as close or optimally as fossil fuel plants, your figure of 50% seems implausible.

[1] http://insideenergy.org/2015/11/06/lost-in-transmission-how-...

I think the actual number will fall somewhere in the middle. In parallel, we have a shift ongoing to renewable energy sources which deliver their output less steadily than coal/gas/nuclear. So the grid will not only need to adapt for increased car battery charging, it will also need to add grid-level storage to meet demands when wind turbines and solar panels are not supplying enough at the moment. Storing energy in grid-level batteries will incur some additional loss. Most certainly not 50% though.

neals clearly said "50% loss of electricity when transporting" which has nothing to do with intermittent generation and need for storage. He claims to be an operator of electric charging and hydrogen fueling networks, and I was hoping to learn something from his experience, but that unqualified statement undermines his position entirely.

Hydrogen is less efficient than batteries and we already have a the infrastructure for normal overnight charging for battery electric vehicles where the vehicle can be parked of the road.

The only time I need to use a fast charger is when I am on a long trip. Normal commuting, shopping, day trips, works perfectly well charging at home on a 230 V, 16 A circuit (Tesla S 70D).

I agree that there must be more fast chargers but municipalities should concentrate on making it practical for people who live in blocks of flats to charge overnight. Just put a couple of normal Schuko sockets on every lamppost with a simple network controlled contactor. Insist that all parking spaces have such a connector.


> Also know that there is up to 50% loss of electricity when transporting over long distances (like from wind-farm to the city).

This affects the cost of production of hydrogen just as much as it does the charging of batteries so what is the relevance?

Yes, I agree that you describe a use case that works and is solved for you and many other early adopters. Which is great for the overall acceptance of BEV driving.

Also great to hear you live in a home where you can actually park your car close enough to the building to have the luxury of charging it through your own infrastructure.

I too have these benefits, and, probably like you, I too drive a Tesla vehicle cheaply, thanks to tax incentives and company benefits.

Now let's look at the other 99% of the world:

If you look at the totals, the situation you describe won't hold up in a full electric future. The sum of the energy requirement for all miles driven, against the opportunity to upgrade the network to meet demand, especially in zones where cars usage is dense (cities) and room for net-expansion is difficult or extremely costly (cities).. there is a huge deficiency.

The transportable and storable nature of hydrogen might come as a solution.

Also, I mention the electricity loss on the network because this actually is not well known. This discussion would likely have started with 'with hydrogen, 50% is lost' if I hadn't mentioned it. That's a go-to counter argument for hydrogen, but one that we should not be focusing on.

Seems like both hydrogen and electric charging at large enough scale require infrastructure upgrades. However, there's a huge difference: there are zero hydrogen stations I can find in my state, which makes early adoption impossible. Whereas BEV charging infrastructure exists today at my house: this means there's an easy on-ramp for millions of early adopters, and the future infrastructure upgrades are understood because we've been dealing with industrial-scale electric deployment for decades. Hydrogen cars can't even get to "early adoption" for most people until the infrastructure has been massively built out, but this probably won't happen once BEVs cruise past a certain threshold.

Auto companies that do this are essentialy motor engine companies. At their core, the structure is aligned to the R&D and supply chain required to build a complex machine with thousands of small parts. BEVs threaten this model, as the components are much simpler and require a different organizational structure. Hydrogen engines, in contrast, do not (or to a much lesser extend) so the relevant actors are more inclined to push this idea.

You can use hydrogen as fuel for an ICE. Given that the knowledge of German carmakers is in ICE, transmission and assembly, the have a problem with battery cars, which have no ICE and no (complex) transmission. They would be reduced to their assembly lines.

Hard to say. Their hydrogen efforts seem half-assed at best; so maybe it is just management not yet convinced BEV will work, and assume hydrogen at some point will be good enough so they want to have some experience with it.

Most likely there is internal company politics in many of these car companies which makes it hard to convert to BEV development, it will mean many people losing their jobs, factories closing, etc.

There's the dream of powering ICE cars, with their ease of traversing long ranges, with solar panels thanks to water electrolysis.

That ease only comes from the infrastructure that has already been built over the last few decades. Petrol fueling stations can more easily be converted to electric charging stations than hydrogen filling stations.

If you take a closer look at the complete lifecycle of BEVs they turn out to be not as eco friendly yet- especially those with bigger batteries. hydrogen mighty be reasonable for a while but eventually bevs will come down in price and fcevs will have a hard time to compete. it is hard to say how long this transition will take.

Google the “Gell-Mann” effect for a name to attach to this phenomenon.

That's hilarious. Apparently Michael Crichton named it after a physicist he talked about the phenomena with, in a semi self-referential nod to the effect itself.

Tl;dr: appeals to authority work, even when there's previous proof the authority has no pants.


>>Still the Govt is investing:

To get emission cuts back on track, the government announced in July that 20 new research laboratories will receive a total 100 million euros ($110 million) a year to test new hydrogen technologies for industrial-scale applications. Even more money is earmarked for labs in “structural change” regions, or those most affected by the nations’ shift.

I have to second this. Mercedes has a nice fuel cell demonstrator car, but will lease out only a few of them and no larger production is planned at this time. Other than a few projects which get shown to the press to have something new to show, there is no larger activity around hydrogen in Germany.

Germany has over 100 H2 stations, with plans for 400.

These are only the stations built by H2 Mobility, which is a joint venture of Daimler, Linde, Air Liquide, OMV, Shell and Total.

I wonder how much money they have spent on it so far.

To my knowledge it includes all public available H2 stations, for example the test station by Fraunhofer.

After the explosion in Oslo some of them are shut down until further notice due to rework.

But this graphic from the article indicates that (starting in 2030) hydrogen use will soon be widespread (by 2050)! /s


Things that are projected to happen 10 to 12 years in the future seem to have a pesky tendency to happen 10 to 12 years in the future indefinitely.

Yes, it seems a bit clickbaity to me...

The Germans sold their cheat-cars as long as they weren't detected and even now when their own children protest against the political practices regarding climate change they don't really do something serious about it.

The sad thing is that this could be as good as the world will come with combating climate change. Nice.

> The Germans sold their cheat-cars

You mean “some German companies”.

> even now when their own children protest against the political practices regarding climate change they don't really do something serious about it.

Germany is one of the best player in Europe in this domain. The country has ~35% of its electricity generated from windmills and solar panel (average during the year) and it’s in very active development. The main critic from my point of view is the fact that the country renounced using nuclear power, but that’s what people in Germany were asking for.

Just look at the most recent European Parliament elections, the Green Party got more than 20% of German votes. I expect to see politics spending more of their time and budget focused on ecological and environmental issues in the future as a way to gain those votes.

> The main critic from my point of view is the fact that the country renounced using nuclear power, but that’s what people in Germany were asking for.

Oh really? Germany held a referendum where the majority of "the people" voted against nuclear? I don't think so. There's no reliable way to know what "the people" really want other than a referendum IMO. I don't believe for a second that "we know" that this is what Germans wanted.

As far as I remember Merkel used the (German) emotions during the Fukushima nuclear disaster as an argument to shut down all German Nuclear reactors. The timing: the political campaigns for the next elections about 2 weeks later. The decision to close down Germany's nuclear plants was political. The votes on Merkel (her party) are not equal to German anti-nuclear votes. I don't agree that there is a way to know that "this is what the people wanted". Let's not pretend Germany is a direct democracy...

It's impressive that Germany got to 35 % renewable. It's CO2 emissions however have not gone down sufficiently to reach their 40 % reduction goal[1]. In part because "renewable" doesn't mean "no CO2 emitted". Renewables still emit significantly more CO2 than nuclear plants do per generated unit of energy. Solar panels need to be produced, transported, installed and maintained, they are not recyclable, their lifetime is very limited (25 to 50 years efficient production). A similar thing goes on with wind. Renewables are also more deadly per TWH than nuclear. Even when counting all the disasters [2].

Compare France (a nuclear power generation country) to Germany and this all becomes very clear. France has one of the lowest consumer electricity prices in Europe. Germany has the second highest consumer electricity price in the world. Yet, France has significantly lower CO2 emissions per capita.

Also, the "wasted CO2 cost" of shutting down nuclear plants prematurely is not 0. Significant amounts of CO2 are produced during installing and "uninstalling" of nuclear power plants. If you close such a plant prematurely it means the tons of CO2 per generated TWH go up. Your clean nuclear plant all of a sudden becomes dirtier. I wasn't able to find or calculate how significant this is however.



Just gonna have to shower your enthusiasm a wee bit on the electricity prices in France: they are rising steeply, but this is mostly for political reasons, as this was to allow the private sector to make money from the public nuclear production in the name of "free and fair competition". It's explained reasonably well here (in french only though): https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/March%C3%A9_de_l%27%C3%A9lectr...

Even so, consumer electricity prices in France (as far as I know) are still about !45 %! cheaper right now than the German ones at significantly lower CO2 emissions.

The Germans couldn't even do that nasty political thing that France is doing even if they wanted to. That's how high their production price (and subsidies through taxes) are.


Thanks for sharing, that was interesting to read

I don't know how you read in my comment that Germany is a direct democracy.

This: "but that’s what people in Germany were asking for."

Some questions just shouldn't be asked if one is not willing to put in the effort to educate first. A recent poll in France found out that more than half of the people believed nuclear power was bad for the climate!

At the end of the day it's a matter of infrastructure. BEVs benefit from a pre-established electric grid, end of story. Sure that grid might need improvements/hardening/modernization as BEVs become more popular, but the fundamental infrastructure exists.

Hydrogen needs entirely separate refineries/production facilities, specialized transport vehicles and fuel stations, all of which must be built entirely from scratch and negate many of its efficiency benefits. A viable hydrogen vehicle market would likely need tens if not hundreds of billions in initial capital just to get off the ground and be self-sustaining; and even if such an effort was politically feasible why not put that money into BEVs where it will arguably do more good?

Theoretically you could just electrolyze water on site using power from existing grid. It wouldn't be that much more difficult infrastructure wise than building charging facilities for EV. However according to the diagram included on this article[1] the pipeline from AC power to usable thrust is 3x more efficient for battery vehicles currently.

EDIT: forgot to link the article but I'm on my phone now. Some clever googling will find it for you if you're interested.

And they’ll have to deal with the pesky fact that hydrogen gas from natural gas is cheaper than H2 from electricity.

So it’s either:

1) more nuclear plants in Germany (lol)

2) increased German dependence on Russian natural gas (lol)

If you buy electricity on the spot market it can be extremely cheap or even negative-priced. But the downside of that strategy is that you can only operate your facility for some times of the day.

If you periodically have a lot of excess electricity because you installed a lot of wind/solar; using that to create hydrogen is not the strangest plan. Germany has a lot of clean energy capacity already and plans to install more seem popular.

That's an interesting point, in aggregate.

As we move towards more intermittent renewables, assuming the market remains intermittent, there's an entire new class of demand that's feasible.

Essentially anything that "only needs power sometime in the next week, can soak up a semi-arbitrary amount of power, and can start/stop quickly (ideally grid-controlled)."

I also think we haven't fully exploited interrmittent/responsive demand.

I'd have no issues if a household or building's HVAC system, hot water system, electric car chargers ebbed and flowed their demand in response to supply.

E.g. when I turn on my dishwasher, I don't care if it holds for 2 hours and then runs because the winds are calm now, but expected to pickup in 2 hours.

I don't care if my hot water heater superheats water now because it's especially sunny or windy out.

I don't care if my electric car chargers over the course of 8 hours in the evening, instead of charging quickly now.

I don't care if my AC system makes the building a couple of degrees cooler now to thermal bank the excess supply before rates increase later.

The issue seems to be that energy markets are a long way from achieving financial market levels of responsiveness.

You're essentially increasing the number of market participants a couple orders of magnitude, and the system and existing players semi-understandably balk.

On the other hand, without exposure to end users, the utility-driven pace of change is going to be glacial (by which I mean, we won't have glaciers anymore either).

We already have "smart-meters" that enable time-of-day billing. They just need to monitor usage on a per 5-minute basis (and I suspect they do). They don't necessarily need to report it every 5 mins (otherwise how does the current system know how to respond to demand?).

I do feel like we should start billing on per-5-minute increments, then the responsiveness will come.

I think overnight we'll have a thousand startups selling devices that turn on/off your HVAC or car charger accordingly and save you money overall. Possibly even with a warmer home in winter or cooler home in summer, by being strategic.

> They don't necessarily need to report it every 5 mins (otherwise how does the current system know how to respond to demand?).

Supply is managed at the ISO level (a grid subsection, like the entire California grid), not the individual consumer level. The ISO monitors the AC frequency of the grid, which varies with the imbalance of supply and demand. The ISO contracts with "spinning reserve" generators who supply power to the grid at low latencies when needed to meet demand, a service known as frequency regulation.

There are efforts underway to provide frequency regulation via demand control and battery storage instead of spinning reserves, which are typically Nat gas turbine powered.

Right, but why not let my electric car or water heater take part in that market?

Instead of spinning up a natgas turbine, why not let my water heater or car charger take a break as a part of the market?

There are some grid level implementations of this (install our thermostat that we can remotely turn off to get a 5% rebate), but these seem to work around the primary problem: we pay an average price for electricity, not the actual price.

And if it all works based on grid frequency, the system could even work offline: water heater sees frequency drop and takes a random break between 1 and 60 minutes.

Or variable-frequency drive AC drops 10% in intensity, or increases by x% when frequency is getting a little high.

> Right, but why not let my electric car or water heater take part in that market? Instead of spinning up a natgas turbine, why not let my water heater or car charger take a break as a part of the market?

Indeed, that's precisely what I meant by frequency regulation via demand control and batteries.

(I'm not an electrical engineer)

The problem I was thinking about was demand harmonics.

It's not unreasonable to envision a scenario where a large number of independent devices, acting in their own self interest, end up oscillating between on and off together. E.g. by using the same logic.

It seems like you need something approaching a parallelism primative to coordinate behavior. E.g. bid two steps in advance, find out if your bid was accepted one step in advance, then act.

Or is bidding in energy markets already complex enough to avoid that outcome?

You can imagine a system where loads with the ability to vary their draw do so automatically in response to grid frequency changes, without even needing a centralized bidding system.

Frequency regulation is, however, a relatively small amount of power, and the grid itself needing to run at a particular frequency is more the result of loads that rely on the grid frequency for timing (i.e. A/C electric motors in fans).

In the future the grid frequency could be allowed to vary much more if loads become resilient to frequency variations.

The bigger (in terms of total energy) issue is shifting load to match supply, or vice versa. That can be achieved with appliances that store energy in one form or another. One of the most interesting examples of this is generating ice with wind energy at night to be used for cooling during the day.

Such harmonics can be avoided by injecting some random delays

In Austria and recently (since April?) there is a provider called Awattar. They sell energy with a flexible price model that's based on the energy spot market. They claim "you might even get paid to consume power".

My car charger can interface with them, and do exactly what you suggest. In theory you "just" need smart controllers for the systems.

The idea is similar to 1980s "Storage heaters", which would use cheaper nighttime power; but using fossile electricity this is very inefficient and thus bad for the environment - when exclusively using excess regenerative energy that's different though. Same for AC. The problem is when there is no excess energy for a long time; so I'd personally go with a hybrid system for heating (regenerative energy when available for a heat pump, local solar thermal energy for "base load" heating/warm water - not sure if fossil fuel for winter is necessary with that, but that depends on your climate).

One very interesting example of this is high temperature storage of heat for industrial use.


In the heating season, it would make sense if we could just have strategic resistive heating to soak it up the supply and offset natural gas use.

I feel that electricity prices being cheap or negative is because very few actually get those prices (e.g. residential/commercial customers paying averaged rates when they shouldn't). Or transmission/distribution prices being averaged (which should also rise/lower with demand because capex upgrades are driven by peak users)

What happens to the carbon from natural gas once the hydrogen is extracted?

There are experiments (currently underway in Germany) to extract hydrogen from natural gas without burning the resulting carbon, leaving behind graphite powder which can then be either buried or fed into carbon-composite manufacturing.

Ultimately becomes CO2. Because it's produced centrally, you could collect it and do something with it or store it.

It's possible to just leave it as carbon. The energy needed to convert methane to carbon + H2 is much less (per unit H2) than that needed to convert water to O2 + H2.

From what I've seen on current hydrogen fuelling stations having the capacity to actually refuel a significant amount of cars are limited (because tanks have to be repressurised), if you add electrolysis to this I imagine the fuelling rate is even more limited.

The title of the article is unclear, they mostly talk about increasing the mix of hydrogen with methane on the natural gas grid. This requires new ways of production but is re-entering the existing gas infrastructure for transport.

Most boilers and gas hobs are fine up to 10% hydrogen instead of 100% methane.

It's a good way to reduce the carbon footprint of heating by 10% (edit: after reading the message from aurelwu, this doesn't make sense, it won't reduce by 10, but by less than that), assuming the hydrogen has been produced in a reasonable way (excess solar and wind for instance).

> At the end of the day it's a matter of infrastructure.

No, in the end of the day it is a matter of efficiency, i.e. money. Hydrogen is just really inefficient in production, storage, and converting it back to energy. Unless this is solved (which I don't see) it cannot compete with batteries.

Using renewable electricity to make Hydrogen is bonkers today.

Using high temperature nuclear heat is not. You just need gas-cooled reactors that can make 900 to 1000 °C steam.

This company is making gas-cooled reactor in Canada and claim they can make competitive Hydrogen: https://usnc.com/FCM.html

The processes are different from electrolysis. From https://art.inl.gov/NGNP/NEAC%202010/INL_NGNP%20References/R...

"1. SI Process: A thermochemical process that incorporates: (1) endothermic decomposition of hydrogen iodide (HI) at about 450°C in the presence of a carbon catalyst to yield hydrogen and I2, (2) recycle of the iodine to a concurrent or countercurrent column reactor where it reacts exothermically at about 120°C with sulfur dioxide (SO2) via the Bunsen reaction to form hydriodic acid (HI) and sulfuric acid (H2SO4), (3) gravimetric separation of the HI and H2SO4, and (4) thermal/catalytic decomposition of sulfuric acid (H2SO4) to oxygen and SO2 at high temperature, up to 900°C, with the SO2 recycled back to the Bunsen reaction section. In the SI process, H2SO4 acts as oxygen carrier and HI as a hydrogen carrier.

2. HTSE Process: A ceramic electrolyte and electrode electrolysis process operating at up to 950°C. Water is the only reactant, and high temperatures allow for some of the energy required to split the steam (water) to be supplied as heat as opposed to electricity alone, as in LTE cells.

3. HyS Process: A hybrid process that produces hydrogen and oxygen in a polymer membrane based electrolysis cell operating at temperatures below 125°C. In the HyS process, SO2 is used to depolarize the cell and allow it to operate at lower voltages and hence higher efficiencies and current densities as compared to higher temperature electrolysis cells. Sulfuric acid is produced along with hydrogen in the cells, with the SO2 recycled from a sulfuric acid decomposer similar to that used in the SI process."

As noted in the article, hydrogen is currently unfortunate, because the most economical way to produce it is through steam reforming of natgas. Germany already has supply issues with natural gas, not just the pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Electrolysis of water is another method, but requires a lot of electricity. Using it in the short term is highly wasteful, when the source fuels could just be used directly.

Nonetheless, on a longer timescale, hydrogen effectively becomes a roundabout instrument of space-, time- and demand-shifted energy storage, but potentially bulk-conveyable using portions of existing gas pipeline infrastructure. This compares favorably to batteries (which are heavy, solid, contain other commodities, and are non-bulk-conveyable in a comparable way), and other energy storage schemes (which are immobile or lack effective the distribution of work). It's broadly similar to hydrocarbon natgas and syngas, but without the direct release of carbon during actual combustion.

The hope in this effort to encourage progress and deployment of hydrogen-based technologies, infrastructure, and business models, and tolerate some short-term wastefulness to target a more favorable goal in the long term.

Hydrogen is difficult to store, difficult to transport, low-density (it's the lightest element) and a fundamentally inefficient store of energy. Avoiding releasing carbon during combustion doesn't seem like a particularly worthwhile reason to make all these sacrifices. Carbon release isn't, per se, the problem - it's the open-loop carbon cycle from buried fossil fuels.

I have read that the meme that hydrogen is a good replacement for fossil petroleum mostly gained ground in the GW Bush era, in an attempt to appear to be taking green fuels seriously in a way that was actually friendly to petrochemical industry. It's not a coincidence that 1) Bush pushed the "hydrogen economy", and 2) hydrogen largely comes from fossil fuels.

A really, really good writeup here: https://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-hydrogen-hoa...

Can't hydrogen be used as a mean of energy storage? If nuclear power is used, wouldn't that make hydrogen much cheaper and viable?

It's true that it's inefficient, but I'm curious as of how much inefficient it really it, because nuclear energy can be made abundant and cheap if you use electrolysis close to a nuclear plant.

There is about 9gW of peak nuclear power left in Germany. That is a valuable contribution to keep the CO2-mix in the grid low. Using it for electrolysis would be way less efficient than other forms of storage.

Storing large volumes of hydrogen is very difficult.

Not true. Stick them to a carbon-based backbone and they become energy dense and easily-transported liquids at standard pressures and temperatures. The resulting chemicals are able to take advantage of massive existing infrastructure, too.

(This may sound somewhat on-the-nose, but one of the biggest lessons 'hydrogen-gas-is-the-future' hype has to teach is just how useful hydrocarbons are compared to any other method of chemical hydrogen use.)

Seems like they're storing it in the gas network, does that not scale?

There's enough energy in the gas network today to power the world for a few days, seems like a great way to store excess renewable power.

They are mixing it into the natural gas in low amounts. High concentrations of hydrogen tend to diffuse through and embrittle many structural metals used in gas pipelines.

Salt domes (commonly used to store large amounts of natural gas) might also be useful for hydrogen storage but would need to have their plumbing replaced.

So you'd need a new method of storage, but the scale seems decent enough. Or could you use spare electricity to generate larger molecules?

Using nuclear to make hydrogen would be silly, when renewable electricity is much cheaper.

I was talking about storing energy, which is a tough problems for cars. The source of energy doesn't matter.

NO, because you waist so much energy it's insane. Look at gravity energy storage systems. Or countries where they store energy in water (also gravity based).

The best way to store energy is in potential gravity energy. We should build these modules connected to the grid to buffer alot energy. Smart Grid etc.

Electric cars with smart grid implementation into them would also help alot.

Also these buffer hubs can even EARN MONEY. If they buy cheap electricity at daytime from solar, sell it at night for more. It's an actual business case.

The "clean" hydrogen story when most hydrogen is generated from gas decomposition is dubious at best. Hydrogen can be extracted using electricity, granted, but the costs given are usually those for hydrogen from gas.

>Her group is calling for the natural gas system to carry a mandated share of renewable and decarbonated gases, including biomethane, synthetic methane and hydrogen, starting at 1% in 2021 and rising to 10% by 2030.

Those are most likely volume percent... methane/natural gas has 3x the energy density of hydrogen so it pretty much does not have any effect on emissions but is mostly a publicity stunt.

That's an interesting point. i just assumed that having a mix 90% methane, 10% hydrogen would reduce the carbon footprint by 10%.

But what you say makes perfect sense, it all depends on how much energy we generate from the mix.

Is there any literature or numbers on the subjects I could read somewhere?

Sure, energy density can be looked up pretty much everywhere but here is a paper mentioning it, which might be otherwise interesting to you as well: https://afdc.energy.gov/files/pdfs/hyd_economy_bossel_eliass... (middle of the page)

To show that its really by volume they usually talk about, here just 1 example: https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/03/f11/blending... ( first paragraph).

Using volume percent is not directly a dishonest way to talk about it as that is pretty common way to look at things when it comes to gas and gas distribution networks, however it conveniently gives the wrong impression to a lot of people about potential emission savings - originally myself included ;). A 50% hydrogen - 50% methane/natural gas (by volume) mix just reduces the carbon footprint by ~22% (while requiring lots of investments, for example into gas turbines which work well with such a gas mix, lots of other end users also would have trouble with that mix)

I remember going to the science museum as a kid and they had device the split water into hydrogen and oxygen. I wonder if we could use wind and solar when the sun is shining to do this and burn these gasses when we renewables aren't producing.

We can and we've been able for quite some time, but the problem is that doing that is very inefficient, and you would end up with a very inefficient and expensive way to store energy.

Can't find a proper reference, but one of the most efficient way to store energy is pumping water up and storing it there, in which case the efficiency is close to 90%, and the cost of storing large amounts of energy are low. Doing what you are proposing should have an efficiency below 50% - or more than 5 times worse -, without considering much higher energy storage costs.

How is 50% efficiency five times worse than 90%? Isn't that a factor of roughly two?

90% efficiency: spend 100 joules to get 90 useful joules, wasting 10.

50% efficiency: spend 100 joules to get 50 useful joules, wasting 50.

You could say that 50% efficiency is five times more wasteful than 90%, but that doesn't strike me as a useful metric. More useful is to observe that spending 100 units of energy at 90% efficiency gets you roughly twice as much usable energy compared to 50% efficiency (9/5 = 1.8 times, to be precise).

10 -> 50 : 5 times worse.

In my opinion, that's the less useful way of measuring efficiency. By that metric, 99% efficiency is twice as good as 98%, since the former wastes only 1% of input compared to 2%. Isn't it more useful to recognize that 98% efficiency is almost the same as 99%?

Whether or not it's a good idea, the numbers you're quoting aren't really an argument for it.

A low efficiency solution with high storage capacity absolutely has a role in the transition to renewables.

Solar and wind are going to necessarily be overbuilt in terms of peak capacity. If you have enough to power your country on a relatively calm overcast day, what happens on a windy clear day?

Several pilot plants already exist in Germany (some produce methane instead of hydrogen). https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power-to-Gas#Liste_der_Anlagen...

I think methane generation for storage purposes has a place in going towards zero CO2. methane is relatively easy to store - currently Germany has reserve of 90 days of methane - and it can be very easily used in gas power plants. If they are combined electric and heating power plants, their efficiently is really good. In total, the energy losses are higher than with batteries and pumped water storage, but the relative cheap long-term storage of the methane will make this attractive.

Yes. It's called hydrolysis (albeit somewhat inaccurately), and is mentioned in the article.


Or we could use corn plants and sunlight to capture atmospheric CO2 and convert it into easily produced, transported, and consumed liquid fuel that's already largely compatible with existing infrastructure.

What ever happened to ethanol anyway? It seemed like it was about to be a thing ~10 years ago -- a similar position to electric cars today -- and then it vanished without a trace. Did it die or was it murdered?

What are you talking about? In the US ethanol production is up 20+% over the last ten years.


Corn ethanol is not a very good way to reduce co2 emissions. It only yields about 1.5 units of energy per unit of energy invested vs 7 for Brazilian sugar cane ethanol. In the US it's a farm subsidy program ( in Germany their big corn subsidy is turning it into methane). The reason you think it disappeared is that everyone now realizes it's justifications don't make sense but farm states are too important to take a subsidy away from.

That makes sense. Thanks!

> we could use plants to put CO2 into easily stored liquid fuel that's largely compatible with existing infrastructure

Are you suggesting we spend resources to get CO2 out of the air and then burn them, releasing it again? We could capture it again (which is easier when there is a high concentration, such as at the exhaust of any such plant), but that seems like double the effort. You probably have a reason why this is a good idea or you wouldn't be suggesting it, so I'm interested to hear your thoughts on it.

The argument that capturing a CO2 molecule (by growing corn) and then releasing it (by burning EtOH in a car) is fundamentally different from not capturing it in the first place is alien to me. AFAIK atmospheric CO2 molecules are fungible. Would you mind explaining?

"Flex fuel" cars were very much a thing, mass production of ethanol as fuel was very much a thing, and it was supposedly at nearly price-parity with gasoline. No dreaming necessary. Something happened, though. Saudi oil price cuts? The great recession? Subsidy politics? Some combination of those? I'd love to hear from someone who knows more.

There are significant petroleum derived inputs to corn farming, which combined with the low energy yield of corn ethanol, result in it not being a net carbon zero energy source at all:


Sure, you could. Batteries are more efficient though.

Also extremely expensive to use for long term storage; costs grow linearly with storage size, as opposed to sublinear for hydrogen.

But hydrogen has huge maintenance cost. - Filters need to be replaced. - Moving parts need to be serviced like the Hydrogen pressure pump. - The fuel cell itself has degradation and will lose it's efficiency. (funny thing is, it already has a very lower efficiency)

I have worked with hydrogen in school. And it's so funny how much details people forget which actually impact the WHOLE idea of hydrogen solutions.

I am sure it will never take off, just because it's already against the limits of the laws of nature. Unlike chemical batteries.

Also to store energy, most efficiënt and cheap way to store mass ammounts of energy is in gravity. Current applications have a back and forward efficiency (Charging/decharging) energy of 85%.

While hydrogen probably has a maximum of back and forward efficiency of maybe 20%-30%. While waisting the other 70%.

Please. Don't read hydrogen propaganda. Read implementations and read the math. And then do the math yourself instead of following the hype of fake hydrogen news.

While everyone likes to mention that it's inefficient to split water to produce hydrogen (~60% efficiency round trip to produce electricity, if memory serves me), no one seems to take into account that you now also have a source of pure oxygen. Oxygen is great for producing syngas from carbonaceous materials like biomass (left over dry plant material). If used in tandem one could produce two carbon neutral or carbon negative fuel sources.

See http://www.thermalhydrogen.com/ for a suggested carbon neutral energy economy with syngas, O2, and CO2 (for sequestration) pipelined around continents.

> it's inefficient to split water to produce hydrogen

You also have significant losses when you convert it back electricity/heat with fuel cells, or burning it.

> Oxygen is great for producing syngas

This is really interesting. I wonder how much this helps offset the losses mentioned above?

Syngas (a.k.a producer gas) is normally made from atmospheric oxygen, and is a conversion process of the stored fuel in biomass through pyrolysis to produce tar gas, which is then reduced by the hot charcoal left over. You are essentially producing fuel from garbage and is worthwhile on it's own. By using pure oxygen you can produce a more pure gaseous fuel, as the final product isn't diluted by the mostly inert nitrogen that is in air.

Thats not a round trip. That is just ONE WAY energy conversion. Imagen doing an actual round trip.....

And then think about gravity energy storage which has an actual back and forward efficiency of 85%.

Oxygen produced by air separation is extremely cheap, so the oxygen stream from electrolysis would have little value.

Pure oxygen is not actually that cheap, enriched oxygen like you would get from a pressure swing absorption concentrator is relatively cheap (although it still consumes energy), but it is still mixed with other gases that will dilute your syngas.

Most industrial oxygen comes from cryogenic separation, not PSA, and has a purity above 99%. Liquid oxygen is the second cheapest industrial liquid, after water.

Storing and shipping liquid oxygen is not that energy efficient. The point I'm making is that the oxygen can be used at the source of production (splitting water) to produce more fuel. Liquid oxygen storage is not something that one would do in most facilities while almost anyone could split water and utilize the oxygen to gasify their waste streams to produce syngas for heat and electricity production.

Liquid oxygen is trucked and stored all over the place. Most hospitals get their oxygen by warming LOX (you can see the frosted-over serpentine warming systems by the tanks if you look carefully.) It's easy to ship and does not suffer large losses when doing so.

You keep bringing up this point, but the idea isn't to sell the oxygen on this market, but to utilize it at the source to upcycle carbonaceous matter into usable fuel (Hydrogen, methane and carbon monoxide...i.e. syngas) for use alongside the hydrogen gas that is produced via electrolysis.

This is useful in remote locations (cell towers, villages, etc.) where a liquid oxygen tank would not be viable.

Just to clarify, when I say, "not cheap" I'm more or less referring to the energy costs and not the actual monetary costs. It's energy intensive to bring air down below −183 °C to liquify the oxygen out. When contemplating future energy sources, it's these round trip energy expenditures that are most important. Not to mention the infrastructure costs (liquid oxygen tanks, roads that can safely handle shipping, etc. aren't cheap either).

The market value of oxygen tells you how much your own production of oxygen is worth, even if you don't sell it on the market. If you could replace that O2 by buying it, its value to you is no higher than that replacement cost.

I remember back in the early 2000s BMW made a lot of splash about hydrogen-powered cars. So Germany has had a love affair with Hydrogen for a while now.

Does anyone think its a worthwhile competitor to BEVs for personal and commmercial use?

Despite your memories, and even despite the title image Bloomberg has chosen, this isn't at all about cars, the article is about industrial and energy supply applications, where it could be much more relevant than in consumer vehicles.

> So Germany has had a love affair with Hydrogen for a while now.

This sounds like a joke about the Hindenburg.

Well, BEVs are driving on streets, are available for purchase and infrastructure to charge them is pretty decent in most countries.

That’s funny. I’m some debates related to nuclear power very recently, I had the thought that it’s probably better to focus on using excess power from renewables to generate synthetic gas and simply use the existing gas pipelines and power plants.

The world still needs hydrocarbons. They need to be made renewably. That might only be affordable when wind and solar is overproducing, ie we’re getting “free” energy. Producing those hydrocarbons solves a lot of problems, including balancing the power output from those renewable power plants

I’m not so sure about hydrogen specifically. It just doesn’t have great properties. It’s just that it’s pretty easy to make renewably. Making synthetic hydrocarbon gases is harder, but it helps capture CO2 (at least temporarily) and is more energy dense and versatile. We also have better hydrogen fuel cells, but that could also change with time. Besides, I think this article was mostly about burning gases.

I think this is a good direction for Germany.

There inherent inefficiency in making and burning hydrogen is daunting. But there now is a larger cost gap opening between wind and fossil fuels. If that gap gets big enough, hydrogen could be a good way to store and transport wrong energy.

What exactly do you mean by 'wrong energy?'

I suspect it's a typo for "wind energy"

It is. Auto-incorrect.

There's "green hydrogen" and then there's "blue hydrogen" a new way of marketing an ancient technology... coal gasification (ancient tech) along with pumping the CO2 (safely, forever) into old wells. Devil's in the details.


We have busses driving around on Hydrogen. Then people here say like see: ITS POSSIBLE.

But then they forget we got a huge factory here which has hydrogen as a byproduct. hahahaha Yeah. So it's wouldn't work somewhere else.

Also they added a small solar field which generates hydrogen for green hydrogen. It's just waisting so much potential solar energy.. It's sad.

It's just that some local company which sells equipment and gas equipment who persuaded the local government which have no single knowledge about hydrogen and just want to create a "GREEN IMAGE".

Hydrogen is NOT a green solution. It's just a myth.

It's like Germany's answer to ethanol in gasoline. Who does this subsidize? VW, probably, which ought to be a leader in electric cars, but isn't. Although they're finally bringing out some designed from the ground up electric cars.

"What’s held back hydrogen for decades is the cost and complexity of the technology"

My landlord said it was the energy corps that were against it. The tech is so simple that you could run it at your home with a small solar panel.

Don't know if he was right.

I don't think your landlord was right.

From memory, splitting water into Hydrogen and oxygen via electrolysis, only to be converted back to electricity is very lossy. I believe that most hydrogen generated at industrial scale is derived from fossil fuels.

Storage is also very difficult. Hydrogen is so small it can squeeze through a lot of gaps, making it hard to contain. You probably have to store it at high pressure and at cryogenic temperatures.

Unlike fossil fuels, hydrogen is not a primary energy, so that article starts very poorly.

Hydrogen is most often produced from natural gas, so...yes, it is a "primary energy"

Granted, using hydrogen produced that way isn't a win over just using natural gas.


Ah, so gasoline is also not a primary energy, but the same as hydrogen produced from natural gas, a secondary energy. I hear someone say "fossil fuels" and think of gasoline, diesel, etc. But in the case of primary vs secondary, a fossil fuel includes what is literally taken out of the ground, oil, coal, or natural gas.

My point exactly, I refer you to the first sentence of the article, which I was criticizing: "Hydrogen, overlooked for decades by Germany’s energy planners, is gaining ground as alternative to fossil fuels as the nation scrambles to recover lost ground on its climate promises."

But there is no natural source for hydrogen. It's also rather dangerous, and I say that having worked in automakers facilities outfitted for dealing with the hazards.

Tesla Model 3 owner here. I don't understand why you would ever want a vehicle that must be refueled / recharged at an uncontrollable third party station instead of just having a car ready to go at home every day with the option of solar power. Will they also release cheap at-home hydrogen generators to go with the cars?

Hydrogen does sound like an interesting option for countries that can't generate the power needed to generate hydrogen for power plant scale operations with green options like wind and solar. The hydrogen could be generated elsewhere and brought into the country or regions I suppose?

ICE car owner here. I don't understand why you would ever want a vehicle that must be charged for over an hour at uncontrollable wait times for a charging spot, when you want to travel longer distances, instead of just having a car fueled in 5 minutes at a gas station, which are everywhere and with zero to minimal wait times.

Just to rephrase your argument. I actually do understand the benefits of an EV, but you definitely give up some freedom with it. And charging infrastructure will most likely never reach the level gasoline infrastructure is at, simply because charging takes much longer than pumping liquid in a tank.

Further as mentioned in another answer, I would be legally unable to install a charger at home (even a non-fast-charging one).

We are years, if not decades, away that the EV charging infrastructure can compete for long-distance travel and I wouldn't switch before. (yes, I travel regularly over 500km one way)

First of all, you don't have to charge for over an hour, a Tesla Model 3 charges between 20 and 40 minutes, the 20 with the new superchargers v3. That is reasonably close to refuel your car and take a bio-break. The wait times for a "charging spot" are as uncontrollable as the wait times before you get to the fuel pump. It is just a matter of supply and demand. But Tesla even shows you the free supercharging spots in the navigation system. I doubt, fuel stations offer this service. But this only matters on long distance travel over 4-500km as an electric car can charge from any electric outlet. If you charge your car over night, you will visit charging stations way less often than gas stations with a combustion engine car.

And I explicitly mentioned that I can't charge at home and regularly travel over 500km. Also I can't expect there to be a charger at my destination. It was an answer to the blatantly phrased "i don't understand" of GP

Fueling stations don't have to offer this service. At least in Germany I had never had to wait more than 5minutes for a spot with over 50.000km on the road so far. And if a station seemed utterly full, the next one is less than 10km away. However, friends with a Tesla have complained over fully occupied charging spots during long distance travel. So your 30min bio break can need another 30min of waiting. 30min of charging vs 5min of filling up gas, still needs 6 times more capacity to support the same number of vehicles. Also a 30min breaks invites you to leave the vehicle and go for food/whatever, causing you to occupy the charging spot longer than needed.

Don't neglect that these Tesla Supercharger 3 stations are also expensive to build.

Don't get me wrong, I do want to switch to an EV, even just because of the nicer driving experience, but there are legitimate downsides to it (currently). Talking those away with optimism is nothing but marketing talk.

Wether you have to wait for a spot to recharge is only a matter of available stalls. Tesla is quite good there and constantly is expanding their number of stalls. Currently most locactions have at least 10 charging stalls, so even if all are occupied, you don't have to way a full charging duration for the next free spot. If you leave a Tesla at a supercharger longer than needed for recharging, after 5 minutes you start paying per minute for your stay. So people are well motivated to return to their car reasonably quick.

And yes, I agree, there are use szenarios where electric cars are not quite as comfortable as ICE vehicles. On the other side, if you drive a lot, the cost savings of an electric car could be significant and should be factored into the buying decision.

> yes, I travel regularly over 500km one way

But many people don't. I travel more than 200km by car (range of my i3) only a few times a year. And for all those other days, having a charger at home is just soooo nice compared to having to frequently waste time at gas stations.

In two or three years you'll have a EV option that can surpass your regular distance; and any legal hurdles to installing the required electrical systems are something that should be dealt with on state/national level and made illegal for your jurisdiction. By the way, "slow charging" only requires a regular power socket so no install required in most cases.

I know many Tesla owners here in the Netherlands that has never even TOUCHED a fast charging system. :)

They just get home, stick it in the charger and in the morning go to work. That's literally IT. Also very low maintenance intervals.

About 50% of the population in germany are renters, not owners. And for the other 50% owners, obviously many just own a unit in a multi family building, not the whole propery.

For manyyyyy of these people there simply is no option to conveniently fast charge their electric vehile at home. No renter will want to invest in a pricy wallbox at a property that they don't own - even if the landlord would allow such a wallbox to be installed (most don't want any modifications to their building). And for the apartment/unit owners, a german court has decided that all the other unit owners must agree to such a wallbox being installed, so thats another obstacle.

That's a valid point - charging EV's in multi-family buildings is an issue although there are many public charge stations now and with the range of new EV's a bi-weekly charge or so might be enough for most people.

You don't have to fast charge a car at home. Even at a standard wall outlet, over night you can easily charge 100-150km of range, that is way about the average driving distances. Compared to the value and cost of a parking space, the investment into electric outlets at each spot is really negligible. As soon as there is enough public interest, equipping them even for rended places shouldn't be a big deal.

The bigger problem is actually the one he just mentioned on the side. Most places you are legally not allowed to add charging stations to your rented place. It's not just the landlord giving permission, it goes on with billing.

This stuff doesn't just go away and I would suspect even politics would have trouble changing the law for this. There is a lot of supreme court control involved when it comes to property.

The legal problems are easy to solve - unfortunately a corresponding law was proposed as early as 2016 and is stuck in bureaucracy since. Passing it would be the easiest way to boost electric cars. Otherwise, the home owners just have to agree to such an installation, this shouldn't be impossible either. I am living in a multi-unit house and we have the electricity meters right besides the garage - drawing cables from there would be easy. Otherwise one would install additional meters for the garage, which isn't a to large effort either.

> Even at a standard wall outlet, over night you can easily charge 100-150km of range

I live on the third floor of an apartment block. Am I supposed to throw a 30-meter extension cord down the balcony every evening?

You underestimate German landlords.

They are just waiting until the government makes the costs for charging outlets tax deductible. After that, they will everywhere as quickly as you can say "Elektrizität" :)

It's being used a lot for busses and there's talk of using it for heating instead of natural gas and anywhere else gas is used. It actually makes a lot of sense for buses/lorries/taxis at least until batteries can charge faster (4-6 hrs of use in 30 minutes).

Does it? It seems like it would still be more efficient to just use swappable battery packs. IIRC hydrogen is either made by cracking natural gas (which puts out carbon), or it's made extremely inefficiently via electrolysis (in which case you waste much more electricity than you would by charging batteries). The former is more economical than the latter, but doesn't seem to have much in the way of environmental benefits AFAICT vs. just using the nat gas directly.

To spare you from wondering about your downvotes, the article you didn't read has nothing to do with cars (even if the title image suggests otherwise,) and is instead about industrial and energy supply applications.

Thanks, added some comments on the utility scale usage

Good point - I am surprised to read this, thought hydrogen was a thing of the past. Most of the German car manufactures are releasing EV's though...

I don't think it's going to pan out, for the same reason it hasn't panned out in the rest of the world despite decades of pop-sci publications saying we're five years away from a hydrogen economy. Hydrogen is more like a liquid battery than it is like gasoline, since you have to first generate the energy and then turn it into usable hydrogen, whereas petroleum gives you more energy than you use in obtaining it.

Yep, I've always thought of hydrogen as an energy storage and transport vector, not a source. Thus not sufficient to base on it the whole economy: it still has to couple with sturdy solar (or wind, or geothermal, etc.) plants.

Exactly. Considering the technological developments and prices of the last few years, BEVs just make more sense.

Germany should turn to safe, modern nuclear plants, eg Molten Salt Reactors.

Safety is not the only reason German wants to walk away from nuclear energy. The long-term, safe storage of nuclear waste that will radiate for decades to come is not something want to leave behind our future generations.

The fear after Fukushima is what lead to Germany moving away from nuclear.

No it is not.

The biggest blow of confidence in nuclear power was very likely Chernobyl in 1986. It made the German public realise what effort you have to put in to contain a nuclear disaster. Have a look a the locations of German reactors. And now imagine an exclusion zone around them and note the cities that are affected. It would spell economic disaster for the entire country. On top of that Germany isn't even remotely capable of commandeering the amount of man power the Soviets had to.

Now let's look at politics.

The government under Gerhard Schröder decided to phase out nuclear energy. The next government under Angela Merkel put a stop to the full phase out and issued an extension for existing plants in 2010 [1]. In 2011 there was a "moratorium" that consisted of a reevaluation of existing plants with the possibility to close plants ahead of their extended time [2]. This is the only political action taken after Fukushima. The ball had been rolling long before that.

Please don't believe the simplified, sensationalist recounts that are popular in the American media.

[1] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laufzeitverl%C3%A4ngerung_deut...

[2] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atom-Moratorium

As a German, I think Fukushima was a turning point because a lot of people believed the utilities when they insisted that "Our reactors are safe! Chernobyl was just the result of bad Soviet-era quality/safety standards." Then Fukushima showed a highly-developed industrialized nation standing in front of a cataclysmic dumpster fire of a reactor, going through increasingly desparate attempts at putting out the fire. Sort of like with Deepwater Horizon, but this one hit closer to home because Germany already had this collective angst about nuclear reactors in the back of their heads from the 80s, albeit shoved into the subconscious in the meantime.

Nuclear is needed to generate the energy stored by Hydrogen.

Since the levelized cost of new nuclear is 3-4x that of renewables, how could what you write there possibly be true?

Hydrogen, in fact, if made by electrolysis from renewable energy, would be the final nail in the coffin for nuclear. That's because it would destroy the last, desperate argument the nuclear fans are making: that renewables cannot reach 100% due to occasional long windless/cloudy periods, and that batteries to tide over those periods would be too expensive. Batteries would be too expensive, but hydrogen burning turbines would not be.

Low density is only a problem for high population density, high latitude Europe. But if Europe decides "no, we're going with nuclear" then how can they compete with low latitude solar that's going to be nearly an order of magnitude cheaper?

Renewables will be fine for Europe once all the heavy industry is gone.

Industry, the backbone of modern civilization, requires cheap unlimited power 24/7. Renewables in Europe are killing growth and driving jobs overseas.

Really interesting that with the benefit of hindsight - the German Energiewende stared circa 2010 and their progress on carbon emissions seems to have stalled. Ironic that that was the short term effect of transitioning to use more renewables.

> German Energiewende stared circa 2010

If you mean 'started', then the Energiewende started around 2000 in Germany.

Whether the CO2 reduction are stalling for a few years is relatively unimportant for a project which has a horizon of 50 years.

CO2 reductions in Germany in 2017 were 0.5%. In 2018 around 4.5%...

2019 looks good so far. For electricity production the first half of 2019 has seen a CO2 reduction of 15% compared to the first half of 2018.

The problem was the carbon emission market in Europe was screwed up, making the cost of carbon credit too low. That has recently been fixed and the cost of CO2 is now rising sharply there.

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