Interview with 3minutes2talk speaker Alexander Leonhardt
In the run-up to the networking and pitch event 3minutes2talk on 16 October in Berlin, we interviewed Alexander Leonhardt, Managing Director of Wirtschaftsförderungsgesellschaft Wilhelmshaven.11 Oct 2023
1. What do you associate with the motto of the networking and pitch event 3minutes2talk "Building a global hydrogen economy"? And what contribution do you / your company offer to building a global hydrogen economy?
The Wirtschaftsförderungsgesellschaft Wilhelmshaven mbH has been administering the ENERGY HUB Port of Wilhelmshaven since 2021. In this association of companies/projects, around 40 members/partners are involved in transformation projects that contribute as quickly as possible, directly or indirectly or through synergy effects, to a greenhouse gas-neutral society and economy in the Jade economic region, in Germany and also in Europe.
2. Why is hydrogen as an energy carrier so essential for the future of the global economy?
A hydrogen economy will be an essential component and milestone of the desired climate neutrality and thus sustainability. On the one hand, hydrogen in its many possible applications protects the environment and offers security of supply; on the other hand, new technologies offer potential for new markets and jobs.
A rapid market ramp-up of hydrogen or derivatives is needed in all sectors. Through the use/rededication of existing infrastructures and the construction of additional new plants, the overall result is that 40-60% of the (forecast) German hydrogen demand can be covered by the Wilhelmshaven region or the projects of the ENERGY HUB Port of Wilhelmshaven. The European share of the ENERGY HUB Port of Wilhelmshaven corresponds to 15 %, derived from the European hydrogen strategy, according to which an electrolysis capacity of 40 GW is targeted for the whole of Europe by 2030.
3. What specific opportunities and challenges do you see in implementing a global hydrogen economy?
Technological lead versus deindustrialisation. With clear and binding political framework conditions, a decisive technological lead can be created in Europe. For the time being, a hydrogen ramp-up will not be possible without funding. Compared to the "Inflation Reduction Act" in the USA, it is not the amount of the EU subsidy framework that needs to be discussed, but HOW I can claim subsidies - in essence, it is about a necessary simplification of subsidies: promotion of production instead of CAPEX subsidies; lifting of prohibitions on cumulation as well as adaptation of the EU subsidy framework or creation of exceptional circumstances.
If clear and binding framework conditions are created, Europe will strengthen its technological and economic position in the global economy with the transformation process.
4. What innovative technologies and developments in hydrogen will you present at the 3minutes2talk in Berlin and how can they contribute to the development of a global hydrogen economy?
The companies of the ENERGY HUB Port of Wilhelmshaven are planning to invest several billion euros in over 20 projects by 2030 alone. In some cases, the necessary economic conditions, national and European framework conditions still need to be created and fundamental questions answered that focus on the competitiveness of renewable energies, hydrogen and its derivatives. The ENERGY HUB Port of Wilhelmshaven's cooperation focuses precisely on addressing common issues - in the five thematic fields, the focus is on domestic generation, import, transport and storage and everything that is needed in the region to create a fast ramp-up. In this respect, the ENERGY HUB Port of Wilhelmshaven stands for cooperation, joint positioning and joint communication, as a basis for regional, national and international developments in the hydrogen economy.
5. What message would you like to convey to the participants of the 3minutes2talk networking and pitch event who are interested in the future of the global hydrogen economy and would like to visit HANNOVER MESSE and Hydrogen + Fuel Cells EUROPE 2024?
Against the background of the necessary speed of the transformation process, infrastructural framework conditions and cooperation are needed in addition to a clear and binding political framework. In terms of cooperation, responsibility and participation, the ENERGY HUB Port of Wilhelmshaven can serve as a blueprint for other locations.
In terms of infrastructure, the European Hydrogen Backbone is to be welcomed as the backbone of European water management. With regard to the expansion of CO2 infrastructure, there must be a binding roadmap - building on this - via the carbon management strategy (EU-CCUS strategy).
As far as the political framework conditions are concerned, it needs to be repeated: there will be no hydrogen ramp-up without subsidies. Market ramp-up requires a "level playing field" and not a (politically motivated) selection of projects.
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