Post a Comment Print Share on Facebook
Featured Bündnis 90Die Grünen Börse AB Christian Thiel Versmannstraße

A mayor looking for new friends

It looks like they made an agreement.

- 41 reads.

A mayor looking for new friends

It looks like they made an agreement. The old and the new Hamburg mayor traveled the world synchronously this week and tried to forge new energy partnerships. With mixed results – but more on that later. Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz met in Canada, while Hamburg's Mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD) set out with a business delegation to unearth a special treasure in South America. Or at least to find.

Indeed, the region is well positioned to become the green energy center of the world. In Patagonia at the southern tip of South America, for example, ultra-strong winds hit the coast from the sea, ideal for extensive wind farms. The sun is shining relentlessly in Argentina and Uruguay, which already meet 97 percent of their energy needs from renewable sources. The countries produce more green electricity than they consume and can choose their partners. Because they have the prerequisites for the energy of the future: green hydrogen, produced from the electrolysis of water, with electricity from renewable energy sources such as sun and wind. With this energy source and its derivatives, so the big promise, a CO2-neutral future should be possible. And Hamburg, which wants to become climate-neutral as soon as possible, wants to once again become the gateway to the world. This time with a port as a hydrogen import center for Europe, into which ships from South America arrive.

Everyone wants a piece of the new energy cake, which is one of the reasons why the Hamburg tour group, which is touring Argentina, Uruguay and Chile for a week, is made up of top-class people. Representatives of large municipal companies such as Hochbahn and Hamburg Energie, but also the CEO of the copper giant Aurubis, Roland Harings, and Friedrich Stuhrmann, CCO of the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) are in the entourage. Likewise the general manager of the Chamber of Commerce, Malte Heyne. They are all looking for investment opportunities for wind farms or electrolysis plants. But on the other side of the table are confident potential partners with their own ideas.

Tschentscher himself cannot build any plants in South America from scratch, the mayor is only supposed to provide the political tailwind. His favorite word is “diversify”, and he repeats it again and again on panels and in conversations. There should never again be one-sided dependencies like with Russia, which is why different partners and changing forms of energy are needed. "Diversifying means forming new alliances," says the mayor. "With trips like this, we are building up new, concrete alternatives." It's not always going to be concrete this week. Tschentscher signs various agreements, for example with the city of Buenos Aires and the Chilean Ministry of Energy, which remain rather cloudy in terms of language and content. The talk is in headlines, but little or nothing is actually agreed. This trip also has something of a first acquaintance. With partners who sometimes don't really want to fit together.

Like one morning in the Argentine presidential palace. A magnificent building, the immortal Evita Peron greeted her followers from the balcony. Tschentscher meets Mercedes Marco del Pont, adviser on strategy to President Alberto Ángel Fernández, politician from the Peronist party. This meeting is a "great opportunity" for Argentina, says the advisor, and yet the Argentine side tends to let this opportunity pass. Instead of a real exchange between the two delegations, the Hamburg representatives listen to endless Power Point presentations. Participants report that they were "disappointed" with the meeting. The country has huge potential, but investments here are also risky. Argentina depends on drips from donors like the IMF and is divided into camps, political situations can change quickly. Energy projects are often worth billions and are designed to last for decades – a difficult decision if the partner country doesn't seem very stable.

From Argentina, the delegation takes the ferry to Montevideo. Uruguay is something of a model country in Latin America, covering almost all of its energy needs from renewable energies. Now the small country is looking for partners with large purses. Omar Paganini receives guests at the Ministry of Energy and gets straight to the point. Plants that can be used to produce green hydrogen and its derivatives cost between one and two billion. "Foreign investors" are needed who could handle such a project, the minister explained to the German journalists who had traveled with him. With the right partners, you could probably start producing in 2026 and export from 2030. "Germany and we complement each other," says the minister. But many others have already knocked on the door, Japan and the Netherlands with their port of Rotterdam, large companies from Norway and Sweden.

The new alliances are by no means a foregone conclusion. Precisely because the region feels left out. Everywhere, Hamburg's captains of industry and city leaders first hear from the German ambassadors and diplomats on site: you have forgotten Latin America, neglected it, only looked to the East in the past years and decades. After the turning point in energy policy, the spotlight is now on Latin America. And it becomes clear that others have pushed into the vacuum left by Europe. In particular, the all-encompassing presence of China in the region cannot be overlooked. Just one example: 70 percent of the energy infrastructure in Chile, probably the most important player in the region, is firmly in the Chinese grip. It should also apply to the future: Whenever Germany hesitates for too long, the new superpower stands ready without democratic loopholes.

Later, on a jerky bus that drives through the capital Montevideo, Tschentscher says: "Uruguay impresses me because the country shows that the transformation can succeed now." It had a clear plan and implemented it. Hamburg could also become a role model like Uruguay, that resonates when the mayor speaks. But where are the concrete projects, the clear goals? "The first step is important," says Tschentscher, "that's sometimes half the journey." The crucial thing about these delegation trips are the follow-up appointments, the business cards exchanged, the zoom calls.

But sometimes it can go faster. A few days later in the hotel "Double Tree" in the center of the Chilean capital Santiago. The song "Let's get physical" blares out of the loudspeakers in the conference room, and now things really get down to business. The Lother Group, a Hamburg mineral oil company, classic medium-sized company, is planning the big hit. In the very south of Chile in Punta Arenas, where the strong wind is blowing, a factory for “e-fuels” is to be built. The green hydrogen is therefore made into climate-neutral, synthetic petrol. Large tankers then transport this substance to Hamburg and from there to the filling stations in Europe. Nine other medium-sized companies had joined forces with Lother to form eFuel GmbH, and a large new production site is to be created in cooperation with the Chilean e-fuel manufacturer Highly Innovative Fuels (HIF), in which Porsche holds a 12.5 percent stake. Cost about 1.5 billion euros. "It's still about exact prices and some other agreements. But we are confident,” says Lother Managing Director Hanspeter Tiede and then signs a letter of intent with the Chilean partners. If everything goes well, the final contract should follow.

After Argentina and Uruguay, Hamburg's businesspeople experience different circumstances in Chile. The 36-year-old President Gabriel Boric governs here, and most of his cabinet colleagues are also in their thirties. It is politicians who want to set new topics. Right at the top of the agenda: climate protection and new "green corridors". According to the message to Hamburg, there are enough investors for the state, and the government is looking for strong partners who are also on the same energy course. The country is looking for green anchorages in Europe to export its energy, and there are already agreements with the other major European ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam.

Hamburg has now also joined the list of “green” partners. The city, HPA and the Chilean Ministry of Energy signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" on Wednesday of this week. Both sides are interested in exploring how corridors between Germany and Chile can be created. Green hydrogen is then to be brought from South America to Europe, in this case to the port of Hamburg, and then distributed from there.

The turning point in energy policy can be felt everywhere on the journey. It is the beginning of new alliances in the future market of green hydrogen, a great opportunity for companies that take the risk. "The trip is inspiring and motivating," says Peter Tschentscher in the middle of the week, it sounds like a first conclusion, "there is a lot of willingness to enter into partnerships with us. You can feel that everywhere.” He firmly believes that this trip will strengthen the economic relationship between Hamburg and South America. This prophecy can only be checked in a few years - perhaps during a delegation trip to the new green energy center of the world.

Avatar
Your Name
Post a Comment
Characters Left:
Your comment has been forwarded to the administrator for approval.×
Warning! Will constitute a criminal offense, illegal, threatening, offensive, insulting and swearing, derogatory, defamatory, vulgar, pornographic, indecent, personality rights, damaging or similar nature in the nature of all kinds of financial content, legal, criminal and administrative responsibility for the content of the sender member / members are belong.