The EU Strategy on Hydrogen - Starting pan-European H2 development
Transnational cooperation fosters the exchange of expertise and forms joint visions of the future, especially for new technologies. The benefits of such cooperation are evident in the EU’s hydrogen strategy. According to the European Commission, almost all Member States have included plans for clean hydrogen in their National Energy and Climate Plans, and 26 have signed up to the ‘Hydrogen Initiative’ (European Commission, 2020). Some have already adopted national strategies on hydrogen or are in the process of adopting one. The common denominator in all these efforts is the EU Strategy on Hydrogen, which was adopted in 2020.
In line with its long-term goal of decarbonising the European industry, the European Green Deal, and to aid the post-Covid 19 economic recovery, the EU intends to explore further applications of green hydrogen, to increase investments in its research, and to set-up an investment-friendly environment to attract funding for hydrogen pilot projects. These aims are outlined within the framework of the EU’s Hydrogen Strategy (European Commission, 2020).
One notable element of the Hydrogen Strategy was the foundation of the ‘European Clean Hydrogen Alliance’, which consists of industry, national and local authorities, as well as other stakeholders in civilian society. The ambitious aim of the joint program is to deploy numerous hydrogen technologies by 2030. This will be achieved by bringing together renewable and low-carbon hydrogen production, and hydrogen transmission and distribution to meet demands in industry, transport, and other sectors. One important step towards the Strategy’s goal was the introduction of the ‘Hydrogen Pipeline’ in November 2021. According to the European Commission, the ‘Hydrogen Pipeline’ includes 750 hydrogen projects from all parts of the value chain (e.g., production, transmission, distribution, and application), (European Commission, 2022).
The EU’s Hydrogen Strategy supports investment in these clean hydrogen projects through the Commission’s recovery plan, and through the Strategic European Investment Window of ‘InvestEU’. The investment plan for the EU’s hydrogen strategy is also bolstered by regulative and policy amendments. To this end, in the proposed directive on the internal market for hydrogen the EU Commission included amongst others, a common threshold for low-carbon hydrogen, and certification schemes for renewables (such as low-carbon hydrogen). Furthermore, rules for hydrogen infrastructure, access to hydrogen markets, and the integrity of the market were also added to the proposal.
Figure: High-level overview of the EU's Hydrogen Strategy Source: European Commission, 2022
The EU’s Hydrogen Strategy not only stands as a positive example of international cooperation, but also enshrines the strength of EU leadership in setting global technical standards, definitions, and regulations for hydrogen. Moreover, the EU is also promoting cooperation on hydrogen with Southern and Eastern Neighbourhood partners, as well as Energy Community countries, and the African Union. The implementation of the EU’s Hydrogen Strategy is finished with the publication of the REPowerEU plan in May 2022. The document stresses two key points: 1) renewable hydrogen is an important energy carrier for reducing dependence on fossil fuel imports from Russia; and 2) accelerating the deployment of hydrogen technologies will facilitate the EU’s energy transition and decarbonising the EU’s energy system (European Commission, 2022).
European Commission. 2020. Key actions of the EU Hydrogen Strategy, https://energy.ec.europa.eu/topics/energy-systems-integration/hydrogen/key-actions-eu-hydrogen-strategy_en.
European Commission. 2022. Hydrogen, https://energy.ec.europa.eu/topics/energy-systems-integration/hydrogen_en.