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Germany, Denmark sign renewable energy deal

August 26, 2022

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock met with her Danish counterpart in Copenhagen over the plan to expand wind and hydrogen power. Berlin is seeking to reduce its reliance on Russian energy amid soaring prices.

A wind farm in the Baltic Sea, north-east of Germany's Rugen Island on June 17, 2022
Germany already has nearly 30 offshore wind farms with a handful more in the pipelineImage: Fred Tanneau/AFP/Getty Images

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Friday signed a deal with Denmark to boost investment in hydro and wind power, on the same day German electricity prices hit a new record.

Baerbock, who is in Copenhagen for talks with her Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod, said the renewable energy partnership was a "very ambitious" investment in future generations.

Green electricity and hydrogen should become "central anchors for a more climate-neutral and sovereign Europe," Baerbock said.

The visit also included talks on security and defense cooperation.

What is included in the deal with Denmark?

The two countries will seek to "dramatically upscale" wind farm projects in the North and Baltic Seas, a statement from Germany's Foreign Ministry said, along with plans to use wind energy to produce green hydrogen which can then be piped to Germany.

A statement from Germany's Foreign Ministry said while Denmark has an abundance of renewable energy sources, its hydrogen needs are expected to be far lower than its neighbor to the south.

As Europe's largest economy phases out fossil fuels, it will increasingly need hydrogen to power its heavy steel and chemical industries.

The ministry said the neighbors would begin a dialogue on building the infrastructure required to transport hydrogen through pipes between Denmark and Germany.

The commitment also includes plans to cooperate on carbon capture and storage to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In a video message before the talks, Baerbock said the Baltic Sea can produce "more than twice the installed capacity of all German coal-fired power stations."

She said Denmark is a "role model" for Germany, which seeks to reduce its reliance on Russian energy following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

Renewable energies make up 70% of the mix of electricity generation in the Nordic country.

Germany has nearly 30 offshore wind farms in the Baltic and North Sea and plans for several more.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod on August 26, 2022
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is in Copenhagen for energy, climate and security talks with her Danish counterpartImage: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP/Getty Images

German electricity prices rise 10-fold in a year

Friday's deal signing came as electricity prices in Germany soared to a new record.

The year-ahead contract soared to €850 ($850) per megawatt hours (MWh) —  a stark contrast from €85 last year.

Energy prices continue to skyrocket as European countries spur demand to avoid possible cuts to their natural gas supply from Russia.

Moscow has reduced deliveries and there are fears of more drastic cuts over winter in retaliation for Western sanctions over the war in Ukraine.

Baerbock hit back at Russia's tactic, saying that using energy supply as "a weapon of war is an absolute breach of the rules in order to bring about social division."

That is why it is so important for EU states to stand together when it comes to energy supply, she added.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz has set a date of 2045 for the country to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, the earliest of any major industrialized nation.

To meet the goal, his government has said it would close coal-fired power plants that were reactivated during the war in Ukraine and end imports of Russian oil and coal.

The country will also aim to stop using Russian gas within the next two years.

German takes over presidency of Baltic Sea council

On July 1, Germany assumed the one-year rotating presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States.

The intergovernmental forum for regional cooperation consists of the European Union and 10 member nations: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland and Sweden.

Russia was suspended from the council following the invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow said later it had pulled out altogether, accusing the body of turning into "an anti-Russian tool."

Denmark will hold a meeting next week on the Baltic Sea island of Bornholm to discuss ways "to make the Baltic Sea region free of Russian energy and at the same time pave the way for a significant green transition," according to the Danish government.

Those expected to attend include European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the heads of governments of Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Denmark.

mm/fb (AP, dpa)