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Interview with Daniel Muthmann

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Over the past year, it felt like the latest developments in the gas and energy crisis dominated every issue of energate Gasmarkt. The crisis is not over, but in this issue, the focus is more on the future of the gas and energy markets. This also reflects the mood of many players, especially in politics. At the Dena Congress last November, Patrick Graichen, the state secretary for energy in the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK), said: "Everything has been done in terms of crisis management. Now we're going to take the necessary measures that still have to be taken for future energy and climate policy. It is foreseeable that this will lead to considerable conflicts within the governing coalition. Bündnis 90/ Die Grünen (Green Party) and FDP (Liberal Democrats) have diametrically opposed views on the right steps to take. From my rather limited gas and hydrogen perspective, the issues of CCS/CCU and fracking will be two of the areas of conflict, although, in my opinion, fracking is likely to remain a ‘side issue’. It will come as no surprise to you, dear readers, that from my perspective, there are good reasons for extracting natural gas from shale rock in Germany, but there seems to be too much resistance from policymakers and the public. The same goes for CCS/CCU, but without this technology, climate protection targets will not be achievable. The question is whether and to what extent CO2 will be stored in Germany. The BMWK intends to present a carbon management strategy this year.

From a narrower gas perspective, I am interested in two other topics for the near future. One pressing question for traders is what role the state, and therefore THE, will play in storage filling this year and next. This is, of course, covered in this edition. The second issue of overwhelming importance for at least some parts of the gas industry is the development of a hydrogen infrastructure and the possible role of the state. In the coming months, it will have to be decided whether and in what form the state will be involved in the development of the infrastructure; even the transmission system operators seem to accept this as a ‘Plan B’, as will be reported in the Market Rumours section of this edition.

One last point: I don't think I have ever had as much personnel news as in this issue. From my point of view, there are some incredibly exciting changes – but that is for you to judge. With that in mind, I hope you will find it an enlightening and exciting read.

TOPIC OF THE MONTH: Interview with Daniel Muthmann

A European hydrogen backbone is considered one of the prerequisites for the ramp-up of a hydrogen market in Europe. This backbone is meant to connect the possible large supply sources in wind and sun-rich regions with demand hubs in industrial centres. Today, 31 European transmission system operators are working on the project. Daniel Muthmann, as head of corporate development, policy and communication at OGE, initiated the work on the backbone roughly two years ago. He thinks all the preliminary steps have been completed and that quick investment decisions are now necessary. Mr Muthmann moved to Berkeley Research Group at the end of 2022 to develop the European business as managing director for the global consultancy. I spoke with him at the end of his time at OGE about the status of the European hydrogen backbone, but also about other topics.

ener|gate Gasmarkt: Mr Muthmann: What is the status of the European Hydrogen Backbone Initiative?

Mr Muthmann: To answer the question, it is helpful to go back to the starting point of the initiative. At the end of 2019, everyone in Europe was talking about hydrogen. But the questions of whether there will be enough at all, whether the hydrogen will be affordable and how it will get to the customer seemed quite open at the time. However, it is crucial for the emergence of such value chains that the various market players gain confidence concerning the market's potential and feasibility...