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Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talking to the media as they take a stroll at the G7 Summit in Schloss Elmau on June 27, 2022.Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will sign an agreement to jointly explore the production of hydrogen fuel in Canada for export to Germany, the German government announced on Friday.

Mr. Scholz will be visiting Canada from Aug. 21 to 23, and the two heads of government will sign the hydrogen accord during a stop in Stephenville, N.L. The Chancellor will be accompanied on his trip by Germany’s federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, Robert Habeck, and a business delegation.

The agreement is part of the German government’s effort to become less dependent on Russian fuel supplies by deepening energy partnerships with Canada and other countries. In recent months, as tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have mounted, Moscow has reduced flows of natural gas to Europe, forcing Germany to brace for gas rationing.

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Germany is pinning its hopes on hydrogen, both for its long-term energy security and as part of its transition to a greener economy. Unlike fossil fuels, hydrogen produces no harmful emissions when used as a fuel. That makes it a potential boon for the energy needs of Germany‘s heavy manufacturing industries. Hydrogen could also be used in commercial transportation, or for heating buildings.

The European country won‘t be able to produce nearly enough on its own, though, and is eyeing what it sees as a potentially abundant Canadian supply.

Producers in Alberta manufacture the majority of Canada’s hydrogen using natural gas – a process that creates greenhouse-gas emissions.

Some companies see Atlantic Canada as a place where wind-power resources could be used to produce hydrogen with renewable energy – a draw for Germany, which has ambitious climate targets that include reducing emissions to net zero by 2050.

Newfoundland and Labrador lifted a moratorium on the construction of wind farms earlier this year, and on July 26 the provincial government issued a call for proposals for putting wind turbines on Crown lands.

Newfoundland and Labrador‘s Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology, Andrew Parsons, said the province has already had about 15 companies express interest in wind power projects in the province.

A handful of those would involve the production of hydrogen, he said, with Germany as a potential customer.

The upcoming visit by Mr. Scholz and Mr. Trudeau is another indication that a hydrogen sector can be established in the province, he added.

“When you have high-level figures like that coming to our turf, coming to meet with people, I think it gives it a bigger sense of: This is real, this is happening, this is moving forward,“ he said.

The visit will happen about five months after Mr. Scholz and Mr. Trudeau met in Berlin to discuss a range of issues, including clean energy.

The idea of producing hydrogen from renewable sources was also on the agenda in May, when Mr. Habeck met with Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne. At the time, Mr. Habeck explained that Canada offered many opportunities, because one day liquefied natural gas and hydrogen could be exported from the same terminals.

During his trip to Canada this month, Mr. Scholz will also make stops in Montreal and Toronto. He will visit the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, which performs research and development in AI and quantum computing.

Mr. Scholz will also meet with representatives of Canadian pension funds and former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney, who is now the United Nations’ special envoy on climate action and finance. The group will discuss investment promotion in the shift to renewable energy.

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