US and Germany Enter Energy Partnership; Offshore Wind, Hydrogen in Focus

German and US officials who attended the meeting of the G7 climate, energy, and environment ministers in Berlin last week signed a joint declaration on partnering in the area of climate and energy, after forming four working groups earlier this year in preparation for the partnership, two of which are specifically dedicated to offshore wind and hydrogen.

© BMUV / Sascha Hilgers

The partnership between the two countries aims to intensify cooperation in the field of energy and climate, with the joint declaration identifying three key areas of collaboration:

  • accelerating climate action to ensure a net-zero future;
  • developing and deploying technologies to speed the energy transition; and
  • promoting ambitious climate policies and energy security in third countries.

The four working groups that were established before the new partnership are dedicated to hydrogen, offshore wind, zero-emission vehicles, and cooperation with third countries – and are envisioned to develop action plans, including cross-sectoral approaches and concrete projects.

Each of the groups already held an initial meeting earlier this year, and will continue to hold expert-level meetings as part of the partnership.

The offshore wind working group is currently drawing up a joint strategy paper on transatlantic cooperation, including on the prevention of capacity shortages and on the sharing of expertise. At the invitation of the German Economic Affairs Ministry, a US delegation will travel to Germany in June and, among other things, visit the Heligoland wind farm.

A joint workshop on hydrogen certification will also take place in June, following a virtual expert visit for US participants to Germany in April.

The joint declaration was signed by German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection Robert Habeck, US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, German Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, and US Energy Deputy Secretary David M. Turk.

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The US-Germany Climate and Energy Partnership is co-chaired from the German side by Minister Habeck and Minister Baerbock, and from the US side by Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry.

The US State Department and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection will also participate in the partnership, which provides for annual or biannual meetings at ministerial level, as well as for a high-level bilateral steering group that will meet three times a year.

For offshore wind, both countries have set targets of 30 GW by 2030, the US as the Biden-Harris Administration took over the steering wheel at the beginning of 2021, and Germany last month as part of the recently passed “Easter Package”.

The US now has two commercial-scale offshore wind farms under construction, South Fork and Vineyard Wind 1, and several projects in the permitting process, which was accelerated after the offshore wind target was set.

As for Germany – currently the third in the world in terms of installed offshore wind capacity, but also without a single wind turbine installed in its waters last year – the country recently signed the Esbjerg Declaration together with Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands, under which the four countries aim to jointly have 65 GW of offshore wind by 2030 and 150 GW by 2050.

The four countries also said they had set combined green hydrogen targets of about 20 GW of production capacity by 2030, and were looking to expand this even further for 2050.

When it comes to hydrogen, the US is currently the world’s second largest producer and consumer, operating more than half of the world’s installed pipelines.

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