Montreal, Canada – A new deal between the German and Canadian governments to start transporting hydrogen across the Atlantic by 2025 has been cautiously welcomed by environmental rights groups, as both countries shift to more renewable energy.
The Canada-Germany Hydrogen Alliance, announced this week after a meeting in Canada between German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, comes as Europe tries to wean itself off Russian energy amid the war in Ukraine.
“The Hydrogen Alliance between Canada and Germany is an important milestone as we accelerate the international market for green hydrogen and pave the way for new transatlantic cooperation,” Robert Habeck, Germany’s chancellor, said in a statement on Tuesday.
On the same day, Canadian green energy company Everwind also said it had signed a deal with Germany-based company Uniper to export “green ammonia” derived from hydrogen from a partial wind-power facility under construction in Nova Scotia on Canada’s east coast. .
“These alliances and project agreements that came about [Scholz’s] This visit sends a signal that another way to achieve energy security is possible and desirable,” Caroline Brouillet, national policy manager at Climate Action Network Canada, told Al Jazeera in an interview.
“That is, accelerate the transition to renewable-based energy.”
Push for LNG
Scholz, the German chancellor, has been trying to secure alternative energy sources amid threats from Moscow, angered by international sanctions over its aggression in Ukraine, to shut off the taps on Russian gas flows to Europe. The European Union (EU) received roughly 40 percent of its natural gas from Russia last year, and there are growing concerns that the bloc could experience power shortages during the cold winter months.
Ever since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February, Canada – the world’s fifth-largest natural gas producer – has faced calls from energy companies and pro-oil lawmakers to boost energy exports to help its allies in Europe. In March, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson said Ottawa would increase oil and gas production by 300,000 barrels per day this year to address an “energy security crisis.”
But Germany had urged Canada to increase exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe in particular, Scholz reiterated this week amid green energy deals, and hopes Ottawa will deliver more. Trudeau threw cold water on that prospect on Monday, telling reporters Canada needed a “business case” for it because of infrastructure and financial constraints.
“Trudeau is wasting the opportunity of a generation, of billions of dollars, not for more pay for our people, not for energy security for us and our allies,” said legislator Pierre Poilievre, the front-runner in the race to be the next leader. The Conservative Party of Canada tweeted. “As Prime Minister, I will repeal their anti-energy laws and champion Canadian energy.”
Yet Canada has no operating LNG export facilities, and the International Institute for Sustainable Development think-tank recently said that Europe needs supplies now, “which results in a fundamental inconsistency. Canada cannot ramp up supplies before 2025, while Europe’s energy needs are largely solved by then.” will go
“It is clear that the war in Ukraine is going to accelerate the transition to fossil fuels. Energy security now means renewable energy,” said Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada, who welcomed the announcements this week as “part of that transition.”
“It’s good to see because we’re recognizing that there’s opportunity in this new economy and we actually have concrete proposals moving forward,” Stewart told Al Jazeera. “Greenpeace is no longer a dream; This German chancellor and prime minister are standing there talking about how they’re going to use wind to provide the energy services we need.”
Focus on ‘Green Hydrogen’
But environmental activists also say the devil will be in the details of the implementation of the Germany-Canada Hydrogen Alliance.
Canada and Germany do not currently share the same definition of “clean hydrogen” — the term used in a Canadian government statement outlining the deal, Brouillet explained. “The German definition and preference is for green hydrogen, which is basically produced from renewable energy,” she told Al Jazeera, while Canada is talking about a mix of green hydrogen and “blue hydrogen”, the term used for hydrogen. natural gas.
Because blue hydrogen production creates carbon emissions — which are then captured and stored — Brouillet said the Canadian position “offers a kind of cover for continued fossil — in this case, gas — production, rather than transitioning to energy sources as we know them over a lifetime that have shorter cycles.” [damaging] to the weather”.
The Federal Executive Director of Environmental Action Germany, Sascha Müller-Kreiner, said in a statement that the focus on green hydrogen was important and urged Germany to “not give up”. “Canada is leaving the door open to the production of fossil-based hydrogen … We can only warn the Canadian government not to rely on the export of these extremely climate-damaging energy sources for future economic development,” said Müller-Kreiner.
Rights advocates also stressed that any major project, including renewable energy generation, must respect indigenous rights and buy-in from local communities. “It’s important to make sure it’s done right,” Stewart said.
“I think it’s a great thing to see international cooperation to accelerate the energy transition,” he added.
“[On] On the global scale of things, this is a small part of the solution, but we need more of these solutions around the world. And the more we see it happening, the more we can envision that future.”