When the German Economics and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck traveled to Brazil a few weeks ago, the topic of green hydrogen was of particular interest to the media. According to the Federal Government, this is a key to converting the energy supply away from fossil fuels such as coal, oil or natural gas and towards renewable energies. The federal government sees a potential partner in the largest Latin American country, Brazil. Mining and Energy Minister Alexandre Silveira promises: “We will not miss this opportunity.” Brazil wants to be at the forefront of developing markets for low-carbon technologies.
High share of renewable energies in Brazil
“Even if Brazil already has a high proportion of renewable energies, new wind or solar power plants must be built for hydrogen production. If this does not happen, either fossil power plants will have to step in to continue to ensure the power supply, or there will be a lack of electricity in the country itself.” , says Christiane Averbeck from the German Climate Alliance in an interview with DW. The first is bad for the climate, the second for the Brazilians. “The principle of additionality is crucial to ensure that the hydrogen produced really serves climate protection.”
Great potential, but no plan yet
Ansgar Pinkowski, Director of Energy Transition and Sustainability, is one of those who should help to ensure that declarations of intent and plans become reality on site Competence Center Green Hydrogen Brazil of the German-Brazilian Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Rio de Janeiro: “Due to its geographical and natural conditions, Brazil has the best conditions for the production of green hydrogen. The proportion of renewable energies in Brazil is already comparatively very high. And in the medium term, it needs for the transport from the northeast of Brazil to the European ports only eight or nine shipping days,” calculates Pinkowski in an interview with DW.
While there is already a hydrogen concept in Germany, there is still no corresponding counterpart on the Brazilian side. The new government of President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva has been in office since the beginning of the year and is still in the identification phase. Although there are positive signals, it is still unclear whether, in view of forthcoming investments in oil and natural gas production and a planned increase in efficiency in the agricultural industry, which is controversial because of its climate balance, there is a similar hydrogen euphoria in the new government as in Berlin. “The new President of Petrobras, Jean Paul Prates, has been a strong advocate for investments in climate-friendly energy in early positions,” says Pinkowski. The hope on the German side is correspondingly high that the energy company will now also bet on the hydrogen card to the desired extent.
The Belo Monte hydroelectric power station in Altamira, state of Parà: Hundreds of river dwellers were resettled for the construction.
First hydrogen as early as 2025
If everything goes well, the first hydrogen delivery from Brazil could arrive in Germany by the end of 2025, the German experts believe. For Brazil, this development offers a great opportunity, especially for the poor north-east. Investments would flow into the structurally weak region, and as a rule companies that depend on this energy would also be established at the site of energy production. The development of hydrogen production triggers a chain reaction: “This is an opportunity for a reindustrialization of this region,” said Pinkowski.
Don’t just see Brazil as a pure energy supplier
“Basically, such partnerships hold great opportunities for both sides. With the right rules, hydrogen production can support the energy transition in Brazil and Germany and open up new value creation. However, it would be a mistake to see Brazil as a pure energy supplier for German industry and the future hydrogen projects should only be planned for export,” says climate expert Averbeck.
Brazil also uses nuclear power for energy supply: here the Angra 1 and 2 reactors in the state of Rio de Janeiro
Trade relations between Europe and Latin America are very imbalanced. In many cases, raw materials are exploited in Latin America and exported to Europe without the local population and economy benefiting in the long term. The local population therefore repeatedly resists such projects. “Anyone who is interested in good long-term economic relations must also make a contribution to ensuring that the projects are implemented in such a way that such resistance is not necessary.”