FRANKFURT/MOSCOWGermany will need natural gas from Russia as a bridging technology as it moves to cleaner energy but also will seek cooperation on its hydrogen strategy, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said at a Russian-German conference on April 29.

Altmaier said gas was needed as Germany abandons nuclear power and coal-to-power generation, but it would seek to build on the established fossil fuels partnership as it develops hydrogen from renewable sources as an alternative fuel.

“At the other end of the (gas) bridge there will be renewable energies and green hydrogen, which we can build up jointly with Russia for big commercial scale,” Altmaier said.

“Russia has excellent prerequisites for this partnership.”

Germany hopes to develop large-scale green hydrogen by sending renewable power from wind and sunshine through electrolysis to make synthetic fuel for the industry, energy and transport sectors.

Its 9-billion euros hydrogen promotion program launched last summer envisages big import requirements as the rollout of domestic production capacity will be hampered by land restrictions.

Altmaier’s remarks were echoed by Russian speakers.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said at the webcast meeting that both countries would benefit from intensifying energy cooperation, including, on Russia’s part, building up renewables and hydrogen value chains.

“We believe that (hydrogen) is one of the promising sources of energy in future,” he said.

‘Germany will play a decisive role in promoting hydrogen energy in the European region. We hope for alliances in that sphere,” he said.

Russia was also going to engage in digitization efforts to boost its energy systems with view to closer integration with western partners, he said.

Russian Industry Minister Denis Manturov said it could set up hydrogen clusters for production, and could develop transport options under joint standards and metrics.

“We are counting on attracting your modern expertise on a conditional formula: green hydrogen in exchange for technologies,” he said.