Energy exports

Scotland in talks to supply green hydrogen to Germany

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline was developed to pipe gas from Russia to Germany

Scotland is positioning itself as a key player in Germany’s attempts to reduce its dependency on Russia as an energy source.

More than 100 German business leaders, politicians and scientists have held talks in Edinburgh and London to discuss the export of green hydrogen from Scotland.

As part of the discussions, a delegation headed by the President of Germany’s State Lower Saxony, H E Stephan Weil, attended a renewable energy conference set up by Scottish Development International (SDI) and the Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association in Edinburgh.

The focus of the conference was the potential of Scotland becoming a centre for hydrogen production with the ability to export green hydrogen to mainland Europe.

Hydrogen produces no carbon when burnt but its carbon footprint depends on how the gas is produced. Green hydrogen is made using electricity from renewable sources to extract hydrogen from water, whereas than blue hydrogen is produced from natural gas. It is likely to form a key plank of the UK government’s energy strategy to be announced this week.

The conference concluded that Scotland has a vast potential to produce renewable energy and will require significant investment to ramp up the construction of on and offshore wind power. 

Last year Germany was in talks with Russia about the potential of working together on green hydrogen production and transport. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline – intended to bring Russian a future hydrogen supply directly to Germany – was completed in September but following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine Germany has refused to sign vital paperwork.

The Baltic Sea pipeline had been set to ease the pressure on European consumers facing record energy prices.

Alex Altmann, a partner at accounting firm Blick Rothenberg and part of the delegation, said: “Germany is working on ending its dependency on Russian energy and is moving fast to replace oil and gas supplies from other countries.

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“The visit of Minister President Stephan Weil to London and Edinburgh this week is a sign of requesting a closer energy cooperation between the two countries.”

Mr Altmann added: “Scotland has 25% of Europe’s entire wind energy potential. With its immense natural resources, Scotland is positioning itself as a global player for the export of green hydrogen, which can be a solution to Europe’s energy independence. However, the UK Government must first position itself on its new energy strategy. The Scottish Government seems to have the edge here.” 

The State of Lower Saxony is Germany’s fourth largest with more than eight million citizens and a gross domestic product of £250bn. The UK is one of the most important export markets for Lower Saxony businesses with an annual trade volume of over £9bn. More than 40% of businesses in the state say that they find it harder to trade with the UK after Brexit and wish to see the economic relationship improving again. 

Mr Altmann said: “After Brexit, important channels of bilateral communication must now be re-established as these are not available on EU platforms anymore. Bilateral initiatives such as the Lower Saxony delegation trip are vital to deepen political and economic relationships.”

During the trip Mr Weil met several political leaders, including Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland; Lord Grimstone, Minister of State for Investment at the Department for International Trade; and Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Mr Weil said: “Lower Saxony is the number one state for renewable energy in Germany. We also want to become the number one climate protection and hydrogen state. 

“Our goal is to reduce our dependence on Russian natural gas very quickly. With its coastline and the available water areas, Scotland has great potential for the expansion of renewable energies.”

He added: “One of the two LNG terminals announced by the German federal government will be built in Wilhelmshaven in Lower Saxony.

“I very much looking forward to intensifying future cooperation between the UK and Lower Saxony in the field of renewable energy, learning from each other and exchanging ideas.”

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