Energy on the agenda for German EU Presidency

January 10, 2007, 00:00 CET

Energy was a central topic when over 70 EU journalists visited Berlin on Wednesday, invited to a special event at the Aral service station at Messedamm, where Hydro produces and supplies hydrogen.

The press gathering at the hydrogen station in Berlin took place in connection with Germany having taken over the EU Presidency from 1 January. The journalists were received by Karin Roth, Parliamentary State Secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs.

"It is inspiring to see that the German authorities are so involved in the work to promote new, environmentally-friendly forms of fuel," says Ivar Hexeberg, head of Hydro’s activities within New Energy.

Partnership for clean energy

The Aral service station, which is the world’s largest integrated hydrogen station, is located right next to the International Congress Centre, and is one of the busiest service stations in Berlin. Pressurized hydrogen gas, liquid hydrogen, petrol and diesel are all available here. A fleet of 17 hydrogen vehicles is connected to the service station, where Hydro produces pressurized hydrogen from electricity and water. Some of the vehicles connected to the project have combustion engines, while others have fuel cell engines.

"The intention behind the Clean Energy Partnership (CEP) is to show that hydrogen is a safe and environmentally-friendly fuel, which is well suited for transport in everyday life," Hexeberg says.

Hydrogen contains no environmentally hazardous substances, and water is the only emission when using hydrogen fuel. By using electrolysis, water is split into oxygen and hydrogen. The electricity used in this process comes from renewable energy sources, which the project has ensured by purchasing green certificates.

... and natural gas

New Energy is an important prioritized area for Hydro, but the company’s main activities are within oil and gas production and exploration. Since 2001, Hydro has doubled its exports of gas, and the company expects that gas production from the fields where it has ownership stakes will be tripled by the year 2010.

"Natural gas is one of Norway’s most important export products, and we will continue to supply the European markets with environmentally-friendly natural gas for many decades to come," says Kathrine Fog, head of Hydro’s division for marketing natural gas, adding that Germany is currently Hydro’s biggest market for natural gas.

Norway is currently the world’s third largest exporter of gas, exporting around 85 billion cubic metres annually, and it is anticipated that Norwegian gas exports will increase to over 120 billion cubic metres by 2010.

The event in Berlin was held on the same day that the EU presented an energy plan for Europe. Among other things, the plan addresses topics such as climate emissions and secure energy supply to Europe, and the European Commission is preparing to further accelerate the ongoing liberalization of the European energy markets.

"In order to secure the supply of energy to Europe, as well as exploit the environmental benefits of natural gas, we are dependent on European politicians creating a market that ensures a level playing field for competition," Fog comments.