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Call for Contributions

Hydrogen and geopolitics in energy scenarios: In search of the next energy-security nexus



Date: 26 Jan 2023
Time: 9.45am – 5.30pm
Venue: Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), Ludwigkirchpl. 3-4, 10719 Berlin, Germany

Organisers: Dawud Ansari, Jacopo Maria Pepe
German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)

Theme: Energy scenarios—qualitative and quantitative—determine decision-making in business and policy. However, a growing body of academic literature worries about a lack of actual foresight, a too narrow focus on techno-economics, and obscure gaps regarding emerging technologies.

Simultaneously, and also due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, two themes stand out: ambitions to build the hydrogen economy and the return of geopolitics. Low-carbon hydrogen can power industries and (long-haul) transport even in a decarbonised world. However, its convoluted and dynamic value chain makes it difficult to predict how exactly hydrogen will interact with the energy system. A rearranging world order, retracting globalisation, and the return of the state in (Western) energy markets have thrown geopolitics back on the agenda and right into policy-making.

Obviously, the intersection between hydrogen futures and the future of geopolitics is potentially enormous⁠. Besides 10 Mt of hydrogen produced domestically, the REPowerEU plans demand 10 Mt of annual hydrogen imports by 2030. Moreover, the current EU plans rely (almost solely) on hydrogen from renewable electricity and are bound to create a global race for electrolysers and raw materials. Hence, potential dependencies, increased competition, and various risks are apparent. Nonetheless, attempts to map them into current energy scenarios are still rare.

This workshop will evaluate the status quo, discuss current (energy) scenarios featuring hydrogen and/or geopolitics, and assess how to incorporate those two themes into energy and climate foresight.

Context: The workshop is part of the project “Geopolitics of the Energy Transition - Hydrogen (GET H2)”, funded by the German Federal Foreign Office and headed by Dr Jacopo Maria Pepe at SWP. It examines the geopolitics of the global energy transformation with a focus on an emerging hydrogen economy.  The project looks at hydrogen produced from fossil fuels as well as renewable energies and analyses their respective value chains. Moreover, it entails a scenario-based analysis of how to establish a mutually beneficial and smooth energy transition for Germany and the EU as well as selected hydrocarbon exporting countries in the MENA region, Africa and Central Asia/Russia.

The workshop connects to this scenario-based analysis: As part of our scenario-building efforts, we seek to reach out to fellow experts to mutually shape our vision of how to represent hydrogen and geopolitics in scenarios. Although the workshop primarily targets academics and aims at fostering the academic discourse, its ultimate goal is shaping advice for German and European policymakers to anticipate the geopolitical consequences of a growing hydrogen economy and present possible pathways for action.

Call: We invite contributions on the following topics:

  • The status quo and role of energy scenarios
  • Energy scenarios that incorporate the role of geopolitics or international security
  • Energy scenarios that focus on the role of hydrogen
  • The interconnection of the hydrogen economy and geopolitics / international security / conflict

Please submit an abstract (200 – 400 words) for a potential talk to dawud.ansari@swp-berlin.org until 11 December 2022. We will notify you about the status of your submission by 18 December 2022. We have limited budget for travel reimbursements—please indicate in your submission whether you would require any travel funding from our side.