May 8, 2023 [Inside Climate News] – The government says that proposed onshore terminals could one day be converted to produce clean hydrogen. But that technology is in the embryonic stage, stirring worry that the terminals will simply prolong the use of fossil fuels.
WILHELMSHAVEN, Germany—In the steel-gray North Sea waters of the port of Wilhelmshaven floats an impressively long tanker, the German government’s answer to the nation’s energy crisis.
The Höegh Esperanza, sprawling the length of three football fields, is what’s known as a Floating Storage and Regasification Unit. It’s a modified tanker ship that sails to different countries where it converts liquefied natural gas, or LNG, from transport ships back into a gaseous state. This gas can then be injected into natural gas pipelines.
In an effort to get by without Russian pipeline gas, cut off after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Germany is turning to LNG imported from countries like the United States. To some climate advocates, however, this amounts to investing in fossil fuel infrastructure when Germany is trying to move toward a carbon-free future.
The worry is that this could further bind Germany to fossil fuels and the greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change. Europe’s largest energy consumer, Germany has made a commitment to becoming greenhouse gas neutral by 2045.
German leaders have promised that the new infrastructure will eventually be used to import hydrogen fuel, which does not emit greenhouse gases, as part of a transition to a decarbonized energy sector. But some clean energy experts question the feasibility of such a conversion.
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