As the NATO allies work to reduce their CO2 emissions and wean Germany off its dependency on Russian gas, Norway and Germany on Thursday inked joint commitments to boost the production of renewable energy and create green industries.
According to German Economy Minister Robert Habeck and Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, the statements highlighted actions for collaboration in the areas of hydrogen, battery technology, offshore wind, and carbon capture and storage.
“Times are challenging in Europe because of the war in Ukraine,” Stoere said.
“In the midst of the energy crisis, we see how important Norway is as a reliable supplier of gas to Europe, but we also see how crucial it is that we switch more quickly to more renewable energy.”
Earlier on Thursday, Norwegian state-controlled oil firm Equinor and German utility firm RWE said they planned to develop an industrial value chain for the production and use of low-carbon hydrogen.
This would allow Germany to reduce its reliance on coal power and thus cut CO2 emissions, though the joint investments are contingent on a hydrogen pipeline connecting Norway and Germany being built.
That pipeline, if it goes ahead, could start delivering hydrogen from 2030, Habeck said, the year Germany plans to phase out coal at least in its western states.
The pipeline, currently being examined by Norwegian gas system operator Gassco and partners, was “a central issue for the cooperation” between Oslo and Berlin, Habeck added.
“We want to build gas-fired power plants that run on hydrogen. This hydrogen can and should be provided from Norway,” he said.
Norway has since last year overtaken Russia as Europe’s biggest gas supplier, with Equinor the top exporter, after Russia’s Gazprom cut off much of the gas on which Europe previously depended.
Norway currently provides some 40% of German gas imports, according to data from the German network regulator.
Germany is seeking to both make its economy more green and secure alternative sources of energy, away from Russian gas.
Under the agreements signed on Thursday, Norway and Germany would also work on developing underground storage of carbon dioxide. That technology is currently prohibited in Germany but Habeck said on Wednesday that Berlin plans to allow underground carbon storage and to introduce a corresponding law next year.
For Germany to meet its climate targets, there was no longer time to look for other alternatives, Habeck said. “It’s better to put the CO2 into the earth than into the atmosphere.”
Habeck’s visit to Norway creates “a real partnership that ensures that Norway energy imports and German energy security can be further developed hand-in-hand together,” he said.