The electricity travels between the best and the worst of energies according to the way in which it is produced and how it is stored. In a car, it is a puzzle because it is necessary at any price to reduce the weight and volume of batteries. This is the reason why Germany is going to invest 9 billion euros of public money to serve his ambition to become the “provider and number one producer” of hydrogen at the global level, in the framework of a plan as much for décarboner its industry to revive its economy, the automotive industry, in particular, after the pandemic of Covid-19.

Research, infrastructure, production capacity… This program, adopted Wednesday by the council of ministers, provides for a budget of $ 7 billion to develop the domestic market for hydrogen, and $ 2 billion for the conclusion of the ” international partnerships “.

” For reasons of competitiveness and, above all, to achieve our climate goals “, Germany wants to become ” number one “, said the minister of Economy, Peter Altmaier.

one of The objectives of the plan : to increase the production capacity of the country to almost 5 Gigawatts by 2030, 10 Gigawatts by 2040. Germany wants to first develop and then export its know-how in order to develop “new markets” for the industry of the country, according to Peter Altmaier.

The automobile, the main beneficiary

Suitable for a X5, the hybrid hydrogen will be launched in the series soon. © WE! Shoot IT

This program is an integral part of the immense plan of 130 billion euros announced by Berlin last week to revive its economy devastated by the measures of restriction designed to stem the pandemic of sars coronavirus. Germany wants to spend 50 billion euros, or half of the plan, the “future investments” virtuous with regard to the climate.

hydrogen is seen as a way to accompany the energy transition making it possible to store large-scale electricity and using fuel in electric vehicles, ensuring a better battery life than the batteries.

It is used today in the industry, including the chemical or the steel, but the vast majority is currently produced with fossil fuels. In its plan, the German government focuses on the hydrogen – “green” product produced from sustainable electricity (wind, solar…). The conglomerate German Thyssenkrupp announced on Wednesday a partnership with the electricity provider RWE for use of hydrogen and sustainable in one of its mills in germany, in Duisburg.

Production is still very energy-consuming

But the main area covered by this plan remains the automobile, engaged for several years in a forced march to the décarbonation after the multiple scandals related to diesel engines fraudulent. The hydrogen, storing the electricity, can supply power to the motors of the electric cars, which Berlin wants to develop the use of it, for décarboner its transport sector.

In the recovery plan post-pandemic unveiled in early June, Berlin has refused to grant a bonus to the purchase of vehicles, non-electric, arousing the wrath of the sector. The lobby of the German automotive industry, the VDA, has this time welcomed the plan presented Wednesday, saying it was ” in the right direction “, while lamenting a “lack of ambition and precision” on some points.

The industrial germans see hydrogen fuel cells in cars as an alternative to electric batteries classic, manufactured mostly in China. Mid-April, the German automaker Daimler and its competitor Volvo have announced an alliance to build hydrogen fuel cells for heavy duty vehicles in the framework of a joint venture valued at 1.2 billion euros.

The Toyota Mirai, in its first version in 2016, was a first prize for ugliness, but its hydrogen technology was the first available to the public. © E. below the Mirai show that hydrogen is still very bulky. © DR

But the hydrogen for transport is still a niche, its production is still very energy-consuming and the network of service stations offering this fuel is still very limited. It has its critics, including the whimsical Elon Musk who claims that this solution ” is particularly silly “. It is that it feels may be the danger, even though Toyota, the pioneer in technology, markets dropper the Mirai for 2015. It is all the same become a champion in the genre, just like the Korean Hyundai, which was launched in his footsteps and works for 2018 with Audi.

The concept Hyundai of 2017 shows that hydrogen can be aesthetic.

Read our essay : “Toyota Mirai : the car of the future ? “

asian Programs

The Chinese themselves have not remained inactive, and promoting hydrogen as a solution for the future. They have even set a goal of 1 million cars produced in 2030. But they have a lot of delay vis-à-vis the Japanese, Koreans, and Germans, who are working since long time on the subject. This is why the German plan aims to spend money in research and development to solve the difficulties of the chain of hydrogen production and its distribution, which requires service stations worthy of Nasa. Berlin has a well-develop these distribution systems much more expensive and invest in the transport infrastructure.

Read also : “Roll-to-hydrogen : a lot more cars than station-service”

Germany is not the only european country to take an interest in this technology : the France will spend € 1.5 billion of public funding over three years to “reach a plane to be carbon-neutral by 2035” thanks in particular to the propulsion hydrogen.

In a plan adopted last December, Germany has set itself the goal of reducing 55 % of the emissions of greenhouse gas by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.