Germany urges greater EU cooperation on hydrogen technology

With European Union member states already ramping up cooperation on the production of battery cells for electric cars, they should extend their approach into new industrial areas such as hydrogen technology, according to Germany’s economy minister.

Addressing an economic conference in Berlin, Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, outlined his government’s support for the greater production of battery cells in order to become less dependent on suppliers from Asia.

“We want to support the creation of a complete value chain for battery cells in Europe: from the processing of raw materials to battery cell production to recycling,” Altmaier said.

Altmaier added that, in future, the most innovative and environmentally friendly battery cells should come from Europe.

The increased cooperation on battery cells, boosted by the European Commission’s Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) scheme, should become a blueprint for other European industrial projects, for example for hydrogen technologies, Altmaier added.

According to the UK’s Department of Energy & Climate Change, hydrogen is a clean fuel that, when consumed in a fuel cell, produces only water:

“Hydrogen can be produced from a variety of domestic resources, such as natural gas, nuclear power, biomass, and renewable power like solar and wind.

“These qualities make it an attractive fuel option for transportation and electricity generation applications. It can be used in cars, in houses, for portable power, and in many more applications.”

Altmaier’s comments come in the wake of 9 billion Euro investment package passed by the German government as part of a stimulus package to help Europe’s largest economy recover from the coronavirus shock and accelerate a shift towards green technology.

Germany is not alone in seeking to lessen its dependence on Asian-manufactured battery cells.

Slovakian battery maker InoBat recently took a huge leap forward by signing a deal with Manz, one of Europe’s leading high-tech equipment manufacturing firms, that will see a 100 million euros research and development centre and production line open next year.

The plant will produce new Li-Ion battery cells, and will be followed by a 10GWh so-called ‘gigafactory’ in 2024, which will serve the European electric vehicle market with what the firm hopes are innovative and optimised batteries at scale.