It is a kind of “North Sea Alliance”: German-British economic relations are to be promoted again after Brexit. There is one focus. There could be movement on another topic.
Germany and Great Britain want to deepen their cooperation in the energy sector. Power cables are planned between Great Britain and the German North Sea coast. This is provided for in a declaration that was signed in London on Friday by Economics and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) and British Energy Minister Claire Coutinho.
Habeck said economic relations between Germany and Great Britain should be restored. The energy sector is particularly suitable for this.
It was said that cooperation on wind farms in the North Sea via so-called hybrid interconnectors should generate substantial “green” electricity and hydrogen imports in the future. The “NeuConnect” submarine cable connection between the Isle of Grain in Kent in southern England and Wilhelmshaven is already being planned. Once completed, it will be Britain’s second-longest multi-purpose power line with around 725 kilometers of land and submarine cables. Regular operations should begin by 2028. According to Habeck, up to 1.5 million households could be supplied with “reliable, affordable and clean” energy.
In addition, the “Tarchon” interconnector should be developed between Niederlangen im Emsland and Essex. Commissioning is therefore planned for 2030. A submarine cable connection from northern Germany to Scotland is also planned, incorporating Scottish wind farms. Great Britain is particularly strong in the offshore sector, i.e. wind farms in the North Sea. According to Habeck, around 75 percent of the installed offshore wind capacity in the North Sea is in German and British waters.
Cooperation on hydrogen
At the end of September, Germany and Great Britain had already announced that they wanted to work more closely together on the expansion of “green” hydrogen. We speak of “green” hydrogen when electricity from renewable energy sources is used to produce it.
Habeck said that the British government cannot yet say how much of the future hydrogen produced in Great Britain will be needed there – and whether hydrogen can be imported to Germany.
Hydrogen should play a key role in the energy transition, i.e. in the switch to more climate-friendly production processes, for example in the steel industry. The federal government announced in the summer that it would create significantly more generation options in Germany by 2030. Habeck had said that around a third of the hydrogen required should be produced in Germany and two thirds would have to be imported.
Brexit tariffs for electric cars
With a view to trade between the EU and Great Britain, Habeck spoke out in favor of exempting electric cars from tariffs for longer. The customs exemption for electric cars agreed after Brexit will expire at the end of the year. However, it has not yet been possible to ramp up battery production in the EU. That’s why, like the British side, he is committed to extending the customs exemption for three years, said Habeck. “The decision must be made at European level. But I would like the other European partners to also support it.”
The background is that due to Britain’s exit from the EU, new customs rules are actually due to come into force on January 1, 2024. Vehicles whose value added is less than 45 percent in the EU or Great Britain should be subject to a tariff of 10 percent. However, due to the lack of in-house battery production in Great Britain and the EU, this cannot be avoided for electric cars in the foreseeable future. British car manufacturers therefore fear that they will no longer be competitive in the important EU export market. German car manufacturers also have to fear that tariffs will be incurred when exporting to Great Britain in the future. The automotive industry association had called for the current rules to be extended until the end of 2026.