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ENERGY

Germany to triple number of hydrogen fuel stations

Germany will significantly expand its hydrogen refuelling network as it seeks to wean lorries and buses off fossil fuels and decarbonise its transport network.

A 'Wasserstofftankstelle' or hydrogen refuelling station in Laatzen, Lower Saxony.
A 'Wasserstofftankstelle' or hydrogen refuelling station in Laatzen, Lower Saxony. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Ole Spata

The number of stations in Europe’s largest economy will more than triple to 300 by 2030, the network operator H2 mobility and financial backers said in a statement on Tuesday.

Hydrogen produces only steam and no carbon dioxide when burnt, making it an attractive possible alternative to dirtier fossil fuels.

The expansion is being funded by a €70 million ($77-million) cash injection from the specialist investment fund Hy24, which will also take a 40 percent stake in the project.

Existing shareholders in the network, including Air Liquide, Daimler Truck, Hyundai, Linde, OMV, Shell, and TotalEnergies, will invest a further 40 million euros.

The backers hope Germany, which already boasts Europe’s densest web of hydrogen refuelling stations, will become the “backbone” of the European transport network, where hydrogen is key to reducing emissions.

New installations will be focussed along a number of key “high-traffic corridors” criss-crossing the central European powerhouse.

Unlike in passenger vehicles, battery-powered engines are currently not considered strong enough to be used in heavy-goods vehicles.

Hydrogen is better adapted to lorries and buses, allowing them to “refuel quickly and cover long distances without sacrificing payload”, the parties said.

Founded in 2021 by the French companies Air Liquide, TotalEnergies and Vinci together with the private investment house Ardian, the Hy24 fund specifically targets hydrogen infrastructure projects.

READ ALSO: Germany aims for world number one spot in green hydrogen

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ENERGY

Russia using energy ‘as weapon’, says Berlin

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck accused Russia on Thursday of using energy as "a weapon", after Moscow announced sanctions on Western energy firms and a key pipeline again saw lower gas deliveries to Europe.

Russia using energy 'as weapon', says Berlin

“It has to be said that the situation is coming to a head, in such a way that the use of energy as a weapon is now being realised in several areas,” Habeck told a press conference.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, on a visit to the German capital, said Moscow had shown itself to be an unreliable supplier.

Kuleba urged Europe to end its heavy dependence on Russian gas that was helping to finance Moscow’s war machine.

“This energy oxygen for Russia must be turned off and that is especially important for Europe,” Kuleba said at a joint press conference with Habeck.

“Europe must get rid of this complete dependence on Russian gas, since Russia has shown… that it is not a reliable partner and Europe cannot afford that.”

Russia on Thursday said it would stop sending natural gas via the Polish section of the Yamal-Europe pipeline as part of retaliation for Western sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.

The move comes a day after Russia issued a government decree imposing sanctions on 31 EU, US and Singaporean energy firms.

Most of the companies belong to the Gazprom Germania group of subsidiaries of Russian energy giant Gazprom.

The sanctions include a ban on transactions and the entry into Russian ports of vessels linked to the affected companies.

Meanwhile, operators on Thursday reported a drop in gas supplies from Russia via Ukraine for a second day, after Kyiv said it would suspend flows through a key eastern transit pipeline called Sokhranivka because the area wasno longer under Ukrainian control.

But Gazprom has denied there was a case for the Ukrainian side to declare “force majeure” and said it was impossible to reroute all the supplies through another Ukrainian pipeline.

‘Blackmail’ fears

Gazprom told the Interfax news agency that supplies transiting Ukraine on Thursday were at 50.6 million cubic metres in total, compared to 72 million cubic metres the day before.

Germany, which is hugely reliant on Russian energy, said it had been able to make up the shortfall through gas imports from Norway and the Netherlands.

The head of Germany’s Federal Network Agency, Klaus Mueller, also noted that Russia had been very “surgical” about its pick on which companies to sanction, selecting only storage and trading companies, and “not the operators”.

This “very well-planned, precise decree allows it to keep doing business with Germany, but not on old contract conditions”, rather under new conditions that other gas dealers would then have to conclude with Russia, said Mueller.

Europe’s biggest economy is racing to wean itself off Russian energy and has already almost completely phased out Russian coal.

But ditching Russian oil and gas will be more difficult.

With fears growing that Russia could abruptly turn off the energy taps, Habeck said Germany was focusing on building up gas reserves to prepare for winter.

“The gas storage facilities must be full by winter or else we will be in a situation where we can easily be blackmailed,” he warned.

READ ALSO: Russian gas transit halt in Ukraine hits key pipeline’s inflow in Germany

By Michelle FITZPATRICK

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