With the recent publication of the European Commission’s hydrogen strategy, the time is right for hydrogen to realise its potential as the ‘fuel of the future.’ Raffinerie Heide’s CEO, Juergen Wollschlaeger examines how we can capture this momentum, and use targeted, enforceable regulation to turn the hydrogen economy into a reality.
The EU Commission’s recently published hydrogen strategy plans to expand electrolysis capacity from just 1-gigawatt today, to 40-gigawatts by 2030 – enough to produce up to 10 million tonnes of ‘green’ hydrogen. Whilst certainly an ambitious target, it is precisely this transformational thinking that is needed to catalyse investment, innovation and climate action. So, with the stage set for hydrogen to power the energy transition, the question becomes, how do we make the EU’s ambition a reality?
As with any hydrogen strategy – including Germany’s own national hydrogen strategy published earlier this year – what is needed is a progressive policy framework, emphasising the need for cross-sector and cross-border buy-in in order to achieve a low carbon, hydrogen-fuelled future. With this in mind, I was very encouraged to see these crucial elements reflected in the EU strategy, which not only focuses on building an integrated energy system – with hydrogen at its core – but also prioritises cooperation beyond the EU, with a clear aim to establish a global hydrogen market.
But, with an ambitious timeline and an aim to deploy ‘green’ hydrogen as a solution to decarbonise hard to abate industrial sectors, the EU must adopt a ‘walk before you run’ mindset. If electrolysis capacity is expanded too fast, too soon, the EU could jeopardise the technological feasibility of projects, ultimately risking failure. This means, to translate bold targets into tangible outcomes, policies need to encourage the gradual scaling up of electrolysis capacity, structurally improving the business case for ‘green’ hydrogen over time.
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