The energy ministers of the federal states are pushing for an accelerated development of the hydrogen economy in Germany. At the conference of department heads in Merseburg (Saxony-Anhalt), several applications are to be discussed. In addition, several countries are calling for the introduction of an industrial electricity price. The topic of network charges is also on the agenda.

Legal certainty is needed to accelerate the development of the hydrogen economy, stressed Saxony-Anhalt’s Energy Minister Armin Willingmann on Wednesday. The SPD politician is chairman of the Energy Ministers’ Conference this year. “Many projects are in the starting blocks but are not making any progress because there are no legal regulations on green hydrogen.”

European networking in the energy market

Willingmann assumes that the economy will continue to depend on imports in the future. “Basically, you have to realize that the fourth largest economy in the world will not be energy self-sufficient,” he told the German Press Agency. One could become more independent, “but we will never be able to do without energy imports completely”. That is why European networking in the energy market is important, and reliable international partners are needed.

The conference began on Wednesday with the preliminary discussions of the countries. In the evening, a visit to the Leuna chemical site was planned, where green hydrogen is already being used. There, Saxony-Anhalt wants to invest in the infrastructure together with the federal government. A pipeline is to connect the hydrogen storage facilities in Bad Lauchstädt with Leuna and Salzgitter in Lower Saxony. This could create a central hub for the transport and storage of hydrogen in Europe.

The department heads also want to discuss the introduction of lower electricity prices for industrial companies. The German economy has been complaining for a long time about energy costs, which are very high in international comparison.

Industrial electricity price for medium-sized companies and industry

Bavaria is now proposing an industrial electricity price of 4 cents net per kilowatt hour. According to the Bavarian Ministry of Energy, prices are currently fluctuating between around 10 to 15 cents and 25 to 30 cents per kilowatt hour. This depends on factors such as the size of the company, the amount of annual consumption and negotiating skills, it said.

According to Bavaria’s ideas, a favorable industrial electricity price should be introduced by 2024 at the latest according to the electricity price brake system. In order to set an incentive to save energy, the payment should be limited to 80 percent of consumption, according to a corresponding application. This is to be financed from the federal energy price brakes.

Countries like the USA are currently massively increasing their subsidies in order to become more attractive in global competition, said Bavarian Energy Minister Hubert Aiwanger to the German Press Agency. “So that Germany is not weakened, we urgently need an industrial electricity price for medium-sized companies and industry that are in international competition.” Willingmann had also recently spoken out in favor of a favorable industrial electricity price.

The results of the Energy Ministers’ Conference are to be presented on Thursday afternoon. The heads of department also want to advise on speeding up planning and approval procedures as part of the energy transition, on the reconstruction of the solar industry in Europe and on the network infrastructure.

In the debate about a fairer distribution of the electricity network costs, the Schwerin state government spoke out in favor of a flat-rate surcharge. In this way, network costs could be reduced, for example in rural regions with a lot of wind power, said Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s Economics Minister Reinhard Meyer (SPD) on Wednesday. A corresponding application is to be discussed in Merseburg.

In the past, demands for a fairer distribution of so-called grid fees have repeatedly come from the north, where many wind turbines lead to more expensive grids and thus to higher electricity prices. “The federal government must act and finally deliver. The level of electricity grid fees burdens end consumers and disadvantages the north German business location,” said Meyer. The higher costs also jeopardized public acceptance of the energy transition.