Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to Canada comes at a crucial time for Germany’s energy future amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine and gives Canada an opportunity to help while boosting its own economy.
Newfoundland’s green energy deal with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday — will make Germany the first customer of a proposed hydrogen production and export facility, the first of its kind in Canada.
Though that first delivery is likely years away, the deal will mark a new phase in the relationship between the longtime allies.
That relationship was tested earlier this year when Canada was reluctant to return a turbine for a Russian pipeline supplying natural gas to Germany, Nord Stream 1, which was being repaired in Montreal. The turbine was eventually returned in July to restore gas flow despite sanctions against Russian energy due to the war in Ukraine.
Trudeau and his government have been criticized for the move, which the government has defended as necessary for Europe’s gas supplies. Employment and headline inflation also played a role in the decision, internal government documents revealed this month.
Scholz’s arrival in Montreal on Sunday, where he will be met by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, marks his first visit to Canada since Chancellor Angela Merkel took office last December.
Trudeau previously met with Scholz in Berlin in March, and the two leaders held several talks at the G7 summit in the Bavarian Alps in June.
During the summit, the two discussed not only the Russian turbine but also the possibility of Canadian hydrogen exports, which Canada accused Germany and other countries of before Russia invaded Ukraine in February.
Trudeau also spoke more fully with world leaders at the G7 about how Canada could offer alternatives to Russian oil and gas, which Europe has trusted and doubted. despite efforts to punish, restrict, or ban Moscow from the war.
Germany typically gets about half of its natural gas from Russia and is looking for short- and long-term solutions to break away from Russian exports.
In a press conference at the end of the summit, Trudeau suggested that the infrastructure used to transport LNG could be adapted to transport hydrogen as an example of how Canada could help.
But this LNG infrastructure, like the proposed hydrogen plant in Stephenville, N., is years from reality. Construction is underway on the Shell-backed LNG Canada facility in Kitimat, B., due to open in 2025, and other facilities in Atlantic Canada are still in the planning stages.
The International Institute for Sustainable Development says in a new report that Canada’s LNG infrastructure will come online “too late” to meet Europe’s current needs and may even prove useless when the world turns towards efficient energy and away from fossil fuels.
The Stephenville facility is also seen as a longer-term solution to Germany’s problems, Trudeau admitted on Friday during a press conference in Les Iles-de-la-Madeleine, Que.
He said talks with Germany are playing a longer game to reduce dependence on Russia and fossil fuels in general.
It allows all of us to not only disengage faster from Russian oil and gas, but also from oil and gas as something we are very dependent on,” he said.
Wilkinson said Friday the deal between Canada and Germany will set aggressive timelines and targets for starting hydrogen exports and will mark the first step in a long-term collaboration. framework for future collaboration,” Wilkinson said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“But it will set some targets in terms of the timeframe for when we would like to see the actual product switch from Canada to Germany, and both will be quite aggressive.”
He said both countries would commit, with the private sector work together to achieve these goals. Canada’s hydrogen strategy, developed in 2020, aims to be among the top three hydrogen exporters in the world within 30 years.
Currently, the International Renewable Energy Agency does not include Canada in its list of the six places most likely to become hydrogen superpowers.
This distinction applies to China, Europe, Japan, South Korea, the United States and India.
Scholz and Trudeau will also speak about their continued solidarity with Ukraine amid the Russian invasion and European security, according to statements from their respective offices.
The two will meet Canadian and German business leaders in Montreal and tour a local artificial intelligence institute on Sunday.
They then travel to Toronto, where Trudeau will attend the virtual summit on Russia’s 1 annexation of Crimea, followed by an appearance at the Canada-Germany Business Forum. The trip ends with the signing of the Energy Pact in Stephenville and a visit to hydrogen fair.