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Saxony and Czechia to build joint cross-border hydrogen network

The German state of Saxony and the Czech Republic plans to build a joint cross-border hydrogen network and promote the use of hydrogen on both sides of the border, the countries announced last week.

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Saxony’s Energy and Climate Protection Minister, Wolfram Günther, and Economics and Transport Minister, Martin Dulig, met with their Czech counterpart, Industry and Trade Minister Jozef Síkela, in Dresden last week. The parties signed a formal declaration of intent that outlines a joint agreement for building a cross-border hydrogen network, as well as fostering closer ties between research institutions and companies in both countries.

A key focus of the agreement is the repurposing of existing natural gas pipelines for hydrogen transport. This strategy prioritises cost-effectiveness and expedites the delivery of large hydrogen volumes from Eastern and Southern Europe by 2029, if feasible. Existing European gas pipelines traversing the Czech Republic will be repurposed for future hydrogen use as well.

“Building an efficient green hydrogen infrastructure transcends national borders, declared Minister Günther. The European Hydrogen Backbone initiative serves as the backbone of this endeavor, connecting regions through high-performance 'H2-ready’ pipelines and laying the groundwork for a future renewable energy system. Green hydrogen is fundamental to the energy transition and a significant locational advantage, contributing substantially to decarbonisation and our shared climate and energy goals.

Minister Dulig emphasised the role of hydrogen in driving the energy and mobility transition.

Green hydrogen will be essential for Saxony’s steel, chemical, and potentially microelectronics industries, he stated. We foresee a substantial demand for electricity generation as well. Partnering with our Czech neighbors, one of our primary European trading partners alongside Poland, allows us to diversify our energy sources and break free from one-sided dependencies. Successful economic transformation hinges on hydrogen pipelines extending beyond national borders, connecting strong and prosperous regions.

Minister Síkela acknowledged the economic significance of the partnership. 

Germany is our largest trading partner, and the Free State of Saxony plays a major role in this relationship. We aim to expand our mutual economic cooperation, he commented. However, both countries lack sufficient renewable resources for our advanced industries, compelling us to seek alternative solutions. Importing hydrogen from regions with abundant renewable energy sources presents a viable solution. Existing collaborations in hydrogen train technology demonstrate the potential, and this memorandum paves the way for mutually beneficial hydrogen import cooperation.