The EU regulatory framework for hydrogen is almost complete, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Speaking at the first Clean Transition Dialogue she said, “We defined what can and cannot be considered renewable hydrogen. We have sped up permitting for renewables and grids. We will soon have a full set of clear rules in place, to support our emerging hydrogen market. We are the only continent where this is the case.
“It means clarity and predictability for your investments. We have set the direction of travel, so that you can focus on what you do best – that is to bring ground-breaking innovation to businesses and families across Europe.”
She added that hydrogen has a central role to play in the transition to climate neutrality.
“I do not have to tell you, how it can power heavy industries, propel our trucks, ships and planes. All of this with almost zero emissions,” she said.
“Clean hydrogen shows that we can reconcile our economy with the health of our planet. And this is why we have put hydrogen at the heart of the European Green Deal. We have already set course on climate neutrality by 2050, with our legislative framework, Fit for 55.”
Now it is taking European Green Deal “to the next level”, with the first auctions of the Hydrogen Bank set to start next month, with projects backed by €800m funding.
“This auction system will reward the most innovative and competitive companies, which can produce hydrogen at the lowest cost. We will fill the gap between your production cost and the price that the market is currently willing to pay. And this will create a virtuous circle – where the hydrogen market scales up, and consumer prices go down.
“With NextGenerationEU and RepowerEU we are investing in hydrogen valleys, hydrogen trains, and clean-steel factories. In addition we have authorised over 17 billion euros in State Aid for 80 hydrogen projects across the EU.”
Clean hydrogen can go mainstream, the President added, which will create new jobs, new economies of scale, and new business opportunities in the European Commission.
“We are at the same time developing a global market for clean hydrogen,” she said. “We have already signed hydrogen partnerships with countries ranging from Egypt, Kenya and Namibia, to Latin American countries. They have immense potential.Resources of wind and sun or geothermal in abundance.
“They could produce clean energy, transform it into clean hydrogen, and then ship it to the world. And this is crucial, both to create a local net-zero economy, and to meet the rising hydrogen demand here in Europe. Europe wants to be the global hydrogen leader, not only as a pioneer, but as a partner.”
Europe is now attracting more investment in clean hydrogen than the US and China combined with 38 clean steel factories are either operational or planned, all powered by hydrogen, the President claimed.
“When we started the European Green Deal we had none,” she said. “The first hydrogen buses and trains are running in our cities and regions. European ports are racing to build hydrogen infrastructure and corridors. Yet our work is far from finished. On the contrary, it is only starting. Still many obstacles stand in your way.”
There are 67GW of electrolysers’ capacity in the pipeline, well above its ambitious target of 40GW by 2030 set out in the hydrogen strategy. But she conceded installed capacity is still too low.
“So we need to build a bridge between ambition and reality. And this is where today’s dialogue comes into play,” she said.
“I have proposed in my State of the Union address that we replicate with clean hydrogen what we are currently doing with gas. We could pool demand, on a voluntary basis, with the goal to increase demand, make it more visible, and match it with future production of hydrogen. Our goal is simple. We want to bring European hydrogen from niche to scale. We want Europe to be the global home of clean hydrogen.”
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