Departure into the hydrogen future
"The foundation stone for the future of hydrogen has been laid. The development of the hydrogen network is picking up speed in Germany," explains Federal Minister Habeck on the occasion of the recent adoption of the Third Act Amending the Energy Industry Act (EnWG).4 Dec 2023
With the adoption of the Third Act Amending the Energy Industry Act, the Federal Cabinet has created a regulatory framework for the second stage of the hydrogen grid ramp-up. This will enable further hydrogen consumers and producers as well as hydrogen storage facilities to be connected to a nationwide, interlinked network. In addition, regulations for financing the hydrogen core network will be established, on the basis of which a private-sector ramp-up can take place. At the same time, the transmission system operators have submitted their draft application for the design of the hydrogen core network to the Federal Network Agency.
Ministry creates planning security
"Today, we have created a reliable framework for the construction and operation of the hydrogen core network," said Robert Habeck, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection. "This gives our economy planning security for investments in the decarbonization of business and production processes. With the cabinet's decision and the transmission system operators' draft application for a hydrogen core network, we have set the course for the rapid and cost-efficient development of the hydrogen network infrastructure in Germany. The core network will connect central hydrogen locations throughout Germany and forms the first stage of the network ramp-up. I am pleased that, with the financing concept, we are also creating a framework for a private-sector development that also takes into account the performance of future grid customers through a fee cap. This will enable the transformation of energy-intensive sectors towards climate neutrality to gain momentum and Germany to remain competitive. After all, it is not only industry that benefits from an efficient hydrogen infrastructure, but also Germany's future viability," Habeck continued.
Costs to be refinanced through grid fees
In particular, the draft law provides for regulations on the financing of the core grid. In principle, the hydrogen core grid is to be financed entirely through grid fees and thus developed by the private sector. However, the grid fees will be capped in order to prevent excessively high fees from hindering the ramp-up of hydrogen in the first few years of grid development. The future core network operators will be granted a risk-appropriate interest rate and subsidiary risk protection by the federal government, taking into account a deductible. By deferring charges over time, future users will also bear the costs of building the grid, as they will also benefit from an adequately dimensioned grid and a successful ramp-up.
Network development planning for gas and hydrogen
In addition to the resolution mentioned at the beginning, there have been further changes to the EnWG. With these new regulations, there will be ongoing grid development planning for gas and hydrogen. A network development plan for gas and hydrogen is to be approved by the Federal Network Agency for the first time in 2026. In future, transmission system operators and regulated operators of hydrogen transport networks will draw up a scenario framework every two years as part of an integrative process and, based on this, an integrated network development plan for gas and hydrogen.
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