Germany and UAE Sign New Energy Cooperation Agreements

Germany and UAE Sign New Energy Cooperation Agreements

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the European Union, which has consistently opposed and condemned the aggression, has also sought to alleviate its dependence on Russian gas and oil. Germany, in particular, depends heavily on Russia for its energy supply (it imports 55 % of its natural gas from Russia). To ensure the survival of its industries, finding a new supplier is therefore crucial to Berlin.

In pursuit of this objective, Germany has also been considering new sources of energy and new technologies. During a visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on 21 March, Robert Habeck, Germany’s vice-chancellor and economic affairs and climate action minister from the Green Party, signed several cooperation agreements with Abu Dhabi for the export of hydrogen-based energy. There are two types of hydrogen technology: green hydrogen, which is produced on the basis of renewable energies without carbon emissions, and blue hydrogen, which is made from natural gas. At this stage, Germany has not specified which hydrogen technology it will use, but according to Euractiv, the contracts signed with the UAE are related to the exploitation of the blue technology, even though green hydrogen is also expected to be used in the longer run. 

The hydrogen-based technology appears to be regarded by Berlin as a promising one, both in the context of the fight against climate change and energy supply diversification. “The accelerated expansion of hydrogen supply chains is a very pivotal factor in the transition to sustainable energy,” Habeck said following his visit to the Gulf. “Today’s cooperation thus makes a twofold contribution: they strengthen the achievement of our climate goals and at the same time our energy security,” he added. 

The cooperation agreement will see German companies collaborate with Emirati companies as well as the development of research projects between the Fraunhofer Institute and the UAE Ministry of Energy. This research cooperation will revolve around an exchange of know-how, advice on the UAE's energy strategy, assistance with infrastructure development and joint projects related to renewable energy and hydrogen-based technologies.

Although the war in Ukraine might have precipitated this agreement, collaboration in this area is not new, as Berlin already intended to import no less than 3 million tonnes of “clean” hydrogen by 2030, launching an energy partnership with the UAE to that end as early as 2017.

A pilot project aimed at decarbonising the aviation industry has also been launched between the German companies Siemens Energy and Lufthansa and the Emirati company Masdar. With the help of other partners, the objective is to develop a synthetic kerosene, called "Green Falcon". With a capacity of 20 megawatts, the project is expected to be expanded if successful.

Vice-Chancellor Habeck also visited Doha, where he concluded an agreement on a long-term energy partnership with Qatar, one of the world's largest exporters of liquefied natural gas (LNG). The agreement concerns both short-term deliveries to Europe and long-term shipments to planned LNG terminals in Germany.