EXPRESS #4 - September 25, 2018
Germany looks at CCS again, promises to build LNG terminal to please Trump, launches first hydrogen train
Back in 2010, German environmental NGOs protested vehemently against any kind of CCS (carbon capture and storage) initiative.
The German economy and energy ministry (BMWi) has commissioned a study of the country’s options for capturing and storing carbon dioxide emissions to lower its carbon footprint, Manuel Berkel writes on Spiegel Online.
According to the article, energy minister Peter Altmaier wants to find out “what kind of infrastructure we need”and at what point carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology would become practicable for the country.
The article adds that “It is still uncertain how well the technology functions to that end and whether it causes environmental damage elsewhere. According to the article, the ministry will primarily research if CCS can be used to store industrial CO2 emissions, which are difficult to avoid and account for about 7 percent of Germany’s total carbon footprint.”
If this is an about-turn, the same could be said for a rather surprising announcement from the same minister, Altmaier, who said Germany will build an LNG terminal “as a gesture to the United States”, as Reuters puts it.
Germany will choose the location of the terminal by the end of 2018. “This is a gesture to our American friends,”Peter Altmaier said of plans to decide on one of three competing sites for the LNG terminal. “I have been sceptical in the past, but we have agreed to move on.”
The discussion about a possible LNG terminal in Germany received a new push when US President Donald Trump said the country relies too much on Russian energy resources and is “totally controlled”by the fossil fuel exporting giant.
According to Altmaier, a decision on an LNG terminal is “not directly related”to Nord Stream 2.
Trump pushed US LNG exports again recently as crucial to increasing European energy security during talks with Polish President Andrzej Duda while continuing his attacks on Nord Stream 2, reports S&P Global Platts.
In other significant news, Germany also recently launched the world’s first hydrogen-powered train, built, it should be added, by French train maker Alstom.
The hydrogen train fits that picture. It signals “the start of a push to challenge the might of polluting diesel trains with costlier but more eco-friendly technology”, writes The Guardian.
“Two bright blue Coradia iLint trains, built by French TGV-maker Alstom, on Monday began running a 62 mile (100km) route between the towns and cities of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde and Buxtehude in northern Germany –a stretch normally plied by diesel trains”, the Guardian adds.
“The world’s first hydrogen train is entering into commercial service and is ready for serial production,”Alstom CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge said at an unveiling ceremony in Bremervoerde, the station where the trains will be refuelled with hydrogen.
Alstom has said it plans to deliver another 14 of the zero-emissions trains to Lower Saxony state by 2021, while other German states have also expressed an interest.
Hydrogen trains are equipped with fuel cells that produce electricity through a combination of hydrogen and oxygen, a process that leaves steam and water as the only emissions. Excess energy is stored in ion lithium batteries on board the train.
The Coradia iLint trains can run for about 600 miles (1,000km) on a single tank of hydrogen, similar to the range of diesel trains.
Alstom is betting on the technology as a greener, quieter alternative to diesel on non-electrified railway lines –an attractive prospect to many German cities scrambling to combat air pollution, writes The Guardian.
“Sure, buying a hydrogen train is somewhat more expensive than a diesel train, but it is cheaper to run,”Stefan Schrank, the project’s manager at Alstom, said.
Other countries are also looking into hydrogen trains, Alstom said, including Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Italy and Canada. In France, the government has already said it wants the first hydrogen train to be on the rails by 2022.