European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action Robert Habeck are meeting today in Lower Saxony, Germany. First, in Hanover, they are having a bilateral exchange on current European energy issues. Afterwards, they are visiting Salzgitter AG’s Salcos project in Salzgitter.

In their bilateral meeting, Kadri Simson and Robert Habeck are marking the achievements reached under REPowerEU and are discussing the idea of enhancing the global hydrogen ramp-up by linking the new European Hydrogen Bank with Germany’s H2Global best-practice initiative. As part of a “Team Europe” approach, H2Global will be open to all EU governments interested in setting up hydrogen tenders. Together with the European Hydrogen Bank the H2Global foundation will also work on a joint European auction open to all Member States, to make a visible contribution to international hydrogen imports.

Minister Habeck said: “Germany is set to invest more than €5 billion towards international hydrogen purchases in the forthcoming years. The first auctions are already taking place. This encouraging model is open for international partners. I therefore strongly welcome the idea of joining forces and making H2Global an integral part of the European Hydrogen Bank.”

Commissioner Simson: “Hydrogen is key for a full decarbonisation of our energy system, alongside energy efficiency, renewables, and electrification. EU’s renewable hydrogen policy has developed rapidly in the recent years, and the RePowerEU Plan has given it a definite boost. I am glad to see that Germany is the first mover in setting up an international auction. We are ready to build on this experience and develop the first European auction with the European Hydrogen Bank, open to all Member States.”

The visit includes a joint tour of the premises of the Salzgitter AG, one of Germany’s largest steel producers. Together with Lower Saxony’s Economic Affairs Minister Olaf Lies, Commissioner Simson and Minister Habeck will see at first hand how Salzgitter AG is successfully preparing for climate neutral production: The switch to low-CO2 crude-steel production will be realised by a new hydrogen-based route to steelmaking. The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action is currently providing around €700 million in funding towards the ambitious project.

Minister Habeck added: “The successful transformation of our steelmaking to ‘green steel’ is essential both for the future of Germany and the EU as an attractive and resilient centre for industry and for achieving our climate goals. We are therefore supporting our steelmakers on this path – by providing funding for new production routes as in the Salzgitter Salcos project which we are visiting today, and also by working intensively to ensure that their future huge needs for hydrogen and renewable energies will be met. In this context, we are in close dialogue with the other European Member States and the European Commission. Therefore, I am very pleased about the talks with Commissioner Simson today and our joint visit in Salzgitter to learn more about one of the most important future consumption sectors of green hydrogen.”

Commissioner Simson: “We had a good discussion with Minister Habeck on the future of European steel industry, which is central to the strategic autonomy and competitiveness of our industry. Our REPowerEU plan increased our ambition for the consumption of renewable hydrogen, and we expect the steel sector to be one of the main drivers for the increased hydrogen consumption. The visit to Salzgitter Salcos was an excellent opportunity to see first hand the green transition in action, and I am hopeful to see such demonstration projects turn to large commercial projects in the next year across the EU.

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, around one year ago, on 18 May 2022, the European Commission published the REPowerEU plan to make the European Union (EU) independent of Russian fuel imports. The REPowerEU plan contains a set of legislative proposals and strategies for the EU to save energy, to produce clean energy, and to diversify its energy supplies. One of the central elements of REPowerEU is the market ramp-up of hydrogen: by 2030, the European Commission aims for the EU to produce 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen and to import another 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen from third countries. So far, the EU has saved almost 20 percent of its gas consumption, doubled the additional deployment of renewables, and replaced 80 percent of Russian pipeline gas.

H2Global is an innovative instrument to promote a timely and effective technology and market ramp-up of green hydrogen and hydrogen derivatives. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action is already providing €900 million in funding for the first ‘funding window’ of this auction-based instrument and is currently preparing further auctions, as is the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport. The implementation and further development of H2Global is being carried out by the non-profit H2Global Foundation, whose subsidiary HINT.CO GmbH (Hintco) uses the funding provided to compensate for the difference between supply and demand prices. H2Global is designed to promote and accelerate the green transformation of our society and economy in a market-based way. Working together with the BMWK, H2Global has strongly supported the development of the European Hydrogen Bank.

The European Hydrogen Bank is an initiative by the European Commission to facilitate both renewable hydrogen production within the EU and imports. Its objective is to close the investment gap and connect future supply of renewable hydrogen to European consumers to meet 20 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen by 2030, contributing to the RepowerEU objectives and to the transition to climate-neutrality.

Steelmaking is a central basic industry for many important parts of the industrial value chains and, therefore, a core anchor for Europe as an attractive and successful centre for industry. At the same time, steelmaking has been – until now – highly CO2-intensive. The successful transformation of this sector, therefore, also plays a central role in the attainment of world-wide climate goals and as a blueprint for the successful industrial transformation in Germany and Europe. The German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action supports the climate-friendly transformation of the steel industry and the other energy-intensive sectors with numerous programmes, e. g. the “decarbonisation of industry” (DDI) programme, the IPCEI-Hydrogen programme, and by preparing the carbon contracts for difference (CfD) instrument.