Green hydrogen is considered an essential building block for a sustainable energy system based on renewable energies. However, necessary generation and transport capacities are currently only starting to develop. The TransHyDE study now published by IKEM has examined the current German and European legal framework for hydrogen. The analysis, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), concludes that the development of a hydrogen economy continues to be hampered by legal inconsistencies, despite promising approaches by legislators.
‘I want to accelerate the ramp-up of the hydrogen economy and make Germany a hydrogen nation. To do this, we need a legal framework that provides incentives and does not slow down action. We now need to make energy law hydrogen-ready at both the European and national levels as quickly as possible. Innovations and the market in this area must be able to develop in the best possible ways. The study conducted as part of our flagship hydrogen project TransHyDE provides a good basis for this,’ said Federal Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger.
‘The swift and effective transformation of our energy system has taken on a new urgency due to the current geopolitical situation. The development of local generation and production capacities for green hydrogen, as well as new international energy partnerships, will play a central role in reducing fossil dependence. In addition to sufficient technical and economic prerequisites, a consistent legal framework at the national and European level is crucial for the success of this project,’ explained Judith Schäfer, Head of the Energy Law Department at IKEM.
According to the co-authors Friederike Allolio and Leony Ohle, this is not yet the case: ‘Our study shows that although legislators have recognized the importance of green hydrogen – among other things, for decarbonizing the economy – there is still no legal framework that adequately regulates the entire hydrogen value chain. For example, the inconsistent definition of renewable or green hydrogen in specialized laws leads to legal uncertainty. Moreover, the possibilities for accelerating approval procedures, for example for electrolysers or transport infrastructure, have not yet been exhausted. Additionally, funding opportunities, especially in the OPEX area, are limited.’
‘The fact that hydrogen regulation in Europe is not further advanced is due to a variety of reasons, such as the conflicting interests of member states and market players as well as the dynamics of technological development. Especially considering the massive U.S. subsidy programs under the Inflation Reduction Act, Europe now urgently needs legal certainty and a coherent regulatory framework to stimulate investment in hydrogen projects and retain skilled workers in Europe. Many announced reforms at the European level, for example from the RePowerEU initiative, have not yet been implemented,’ added Schäfer.
The German government has now prioritized the updating of the National Hydrogen Strategy for 2023. The current draft takes up key points identified by the study. For example, a Hydrogen Acceleration Act is planned to facilitate planning and approval procedures for hydrogen projects, particularly in the areas of import and generation. A state-owned hydrogen network company is to finance the expansion of the hydrogen network.
The study was carried out within the framework of the BMBF-funded hydrogen lead project TransHyDE. In this project, IKEM is investigating the legal framework and acceptance issues surrounding a future hydrogen infrastructure.
TransHyDE is one of three hydrogen lead projects. It is one of the BMBF’s largest research initiatives to date in the field of energy transition. Industry and science are jointly developing solutions for the ramp-up of a German hydrogen economy: serial production of large-scale electrolysers (H2Giga), production of green hydrogen at sea (H2Mare) and technologies for the transport of hydrogen (TransHyDE).