Renewable industry coalition launches ‘policy charter’ to scale up green hydrogen

Hydrogen will play a vital role in decarbonising Europe, but at the moment, most is produced from fossil fuel [FOCKE STRANGMANN / EPA-EFE]

The renewable hydrogen coalition has launched its policy charter, showing the steps needed to boost green hydrogen in Europe and give the continent an edge in the race for sustainable energy.

The coalition was launched last November to promote the uptake of renewable hydrogen – hydrogen produced from electrolysis powered by renewable sources – which will be essential to help decarbonise Europe.

“Renewable hydrogen will have a key role to play in a sustainable, efficient and modern EU energy system. It offers a great opportunity for Europe to stimulate green recovery, create jobs and be the global leader in clean energy technologies,” said Kadri Simson, the EU’s energy commissioner.

The new charter explores three areas: establishing markets for renewable hydrogen, scaling up the industry and infrastructure, and creating a working framework for renewable hydrogen in Europe.

To do this, the coalition wants to prioritise and accelerate renewable-based electrification, identify priority sectors and speed up the deployment of renewable energy generation in Europe.

Alongside this, they recommend investing in research and development, streamlining hydrogen investments to prevent money going to stranded assets and ensuring a level playing field between energy carriers.

EU Commission charts path towards 100% renewable hydrogen

The European Commission unveiled plans on Wednesday (8 July) to promote hydrogen based entirely on renewable electricity like wind and solar, but said low-carbon hydrogen derived from fossil fuels will also be supported in order to scale up production in the short term.

The coalition was started by trade associations SolarPower Europe and WindEurope and is also supported by Breakthrough Energy, a group founded by US billionaire Bill Gates, which aims to help scale up clean energy solutions. It now has over 20 members, including Spain’s Iberdrola, Italy’s Enel, and Germany’s RWE.

“They bring a new, entrepreneurial voice to policy debates in the European Union at a time when renewable hydrogen’s potential to deliver on the bloc’s bold climate ambitions becomes clearer each day,” said Ann Mettler, vice president for Europe at Breakthrough Energy.

“Now it’s time for EU policymakers to work with the coalition to help fast-track development and scale-up of an innovative, future-proof industry that’s at a crucial turning point. Doing so can help boost the recovery, slash carbon emissions and put people to work,” she continued.

The European Commission launched its hydrogen strategy last year, putting the priority on renewable hydrogen as a way to decarbonise industries and parts of transport that cannot be electrified.

The coalition said it was ready to make the ambitions of the strategy a reality. “Time is of the essence: 2050 is only one investment cycle away. To achieve global industrial leadership, the European Union must focus all its political and financial resources on futureproof solutions,” it said.

Currently, over 90% of hydrogen is produced using fossil fuels. But as the EU looks to cut its emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050, cleaner hydrogen will be needed to decarbonise sectors like aviation, shipping and heavy industries.

“Europe will need loads more wind farms to meet the demand for renewable electricity. And to deliver its aspirations to be a global leader in renewable hydrogen technology and solutions,” said Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope.

Solar will also need a significant scale up to reach the goals of the EU’s hydrogen strategy.

“Reaching full decarbonisation of Europe calls for renewable hydrogen to supplement direct electrification. To support job-intensive renewable-based hydrogen, we need to see stronger EU electricity grids and standardised permitting procedures,” said Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe.

Industry alliance rebels against 'all-renewable' hydrogen

The EU’s draft hydrogen strategy focuses too heavily on hydrogen produced from renewable electricity, says an industry alliance bringing together major oil and gas companies, as well as the steel and ceramics sector.

[Edited by Frédéric Simon]

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