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International eFuel partnerships – a win-win or does winner take it all?

Green hydrogen and electro-fuels (eFuels) could become a cornerstone of a carbon-neutral global energy system while boosting economies around the world, a group of leading policymakers, experts, scientists, and companies agreed at a high-level event in Berlin, Germany on the creation of an international ecosystem for green hydrogen.

Hydrogen
Green hydrogen and electro-fuels (eFuels) could become a cornerstone of a carbon-neutral global energy system while boosting economies around the world, a group of leading policymakers, experts, scientists, and companies agreed at a high-level event in Berlin, Germany on the creation of an international ecosystem for green hydrogen.

Held on January 26, 2022, the digital event featured eFuel Alliance Chair Dr Monika Griefahn and Ralf Diemer, Executive Director of the eFuel Alliance, and focused on the scale of the task confronting international policymakers, highlighting the fact that fighting climate change is a global challenge that requires global solutions.

In the energy sector, international cooperation offers the chance to meet the energy needs of individual nations while driving a global shift toward renewable energy. If non-European nations are not involved, we will not be able to convince them of the energy transition either, Dr Monika Griefahn said.

Panelists were Tanja Gönner, Board Spokesperson, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH; Dr Stefan Liebing, Chairman, Afrika-Verein der deutschen Wirtschaft; Jochen Bard, Head of Energy Process Engineering, Fraunhofer Institute for Energy Economics and Energy Systems Technology; Clara Bowman, Managing Director, HIF Global, Chile; Janita Naidoo, Head of Strategy, Growth and Innovation, Sasol, South Africa; and James Mnyupe, Advisor to the President of the Republic of Namibia.

EU will remain import reliant

All participants agreed that carbon-neutral energy sources offer enormous potential – both for the climate and for the economy. It is already clear, the experts said, that the EU is far from self-sufficiency in renewable energy production and will therefore be dependent on imports.

The speakers pointed to the fact that hydrogen and its derivatives could be produced most efficiently and cost-effectively in locations with an abundance of sun and wind. In addition to the availability of sun and wind, however, the allocation of financial resources must first be clarified.

Furthermore, eFuels, a hydrogen derivative, can be transported over long distances through the existing infrastructure and used in different sectors. Unlike solutions that depend on electrification, they do not have to be produced on-site.

Positive socio-economic impact

Also discussed was the fact that investment in the production of green hydrogen has a positive impact on the economy and employment situation of producer countries.

For example, the production of 10 percent eFuels for the EU market alone – as recent studies have shown – could create up to 278 700 jobs in countries of origin not only in Africa and the Middle East but also in large parts of Central and South America, Asia and Australia. Economically weaker countries would benefit, as would those heavily dependent on fossil fuel exports.

Namibia, for example, has set itself the goal of becoming a major player in the global market for green hydrogen. This would result in a shift in trade relations: nations that until now have been dependent on other countries’ help instead become trading partners. Further research, using Morocco as an example, shows that for every EUR invested in eFuels an additional EUR 12 of value is added locally.

The end result can be a series of markets around the globe, with many regions benefiting from the value created. Of course, when establishing international energy partnerships, environmental and social criteria must be strictly adhered to in the countries of origin. The experts agreed that the export of eFuels should only be possible under these conditions.

It’s a classic win-win situation. Through global energy partnerships, the energy transition can become a global success story, said Dr Monika Griefahn summarising the outcome of a stimulating event.

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