Renewables to support EU hydrogen growth

The EU aims to support the development of up to 40GW of electrolysers as part of a green hydrogen strategy that prioritises production from wind and solar energy. However, the EU will also fund carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies that can only partly mitigate the use of fossil fuels to generate hydrogen.

The EU's executive vice-president for the Green Deal, Frans Timmermans unveiling the Hydrogen Strategy (pic credit: Hydrogen Europe)
The EU's executive vice-president for the Green Deal, Frans Timmermans unveiling the Hydrogen Strategy (pic credit: Hydrogen Europe)

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Under the hydrogen strategy, the EU would seek to mobilise €24-42 billion of investment in electrolysers by 2030 and a further €220-340 billion to scale-up and directly connect 80-120GW of wind and solar capacity to these electrolysers.

It targets 6GW of operational electrolysers by 2024 - up from about 1GW today - and 40GW by 2030. To date, 1.5-2.3GW of new renewable hydrogen production projects are under construction or announced, while 22GW of electrolyser projects have been announced.

However, while the strategy prioritises renewables-based ‘green hydrogen’ production, fossil-fuels could still be used to create hydrogen in Europe.

The EU Commission argued that support must also go to helping fossil-fuel-generated hydrogen producers deploy carbon capture storage technologies to remove roughly 90% of greenhouse gas emissions. Fossil-fuels - especially natural gas - can be used as a feedstock for hydrogen production, the EU explained.

The blueprint for green hydrogen was published alongside the EU’s energy system integration strategy, which targets direct electrification of energy demand through an accelerated transition to a power system based largely on wind and solar.

The EU envisages hydrogen generated from renewables meeting 14% of Europe’s energy needs by 2050.

Renewable hydrogen is needed for “daily or seasonal storage, as a backup and to provide buffering functions, enhancing security of supply in the medium term,” the EU explained.

Giles Dickson, WindEurope’s CEO, welcomed both strategies and the Commission’s recognition of “the primary role of direct electrification”. 

He added: “Electrifying heating, transport and industry directly via renewables is the cheapest and most efficient way to decarbonise energy.

“Renewables are well over a third of Europe’s electricity and rising. We now have to get renewable electricity into heating, transport and industry.”

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