Europe’s ‘hidden demand’ for green hydrogen could hit 1,400TWh

Demand could see the technology become mainstream in three years according to a report from a new coalition backed by WindEurope, Nordex and RWE Renewables

Developers including Ørsted plan to build a 30MW wind-powered electrolyser at Heide refinery in northern Germany

A significant ‘hidden demand’ for green hydrogen in Europe could rapidly emerge, if costs fall, investment is made and policy is supportive, an industry report has found.

The newly formed Renewable Hydrogen Coalition found that €550-700bn of investment could cut Europe’s annual emissions by 10%.

Moreover, renewable hydrogen could become mainstream within three to seven years, if barriers are “systematically removed” and progress accelerated. This would require collaboration across the supply.

Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope, said: “To fully decarbonise energy in Europe we need renewable hydrogen. And it needs to be ‘made in Europe’.”

This could unlock a significant ‘hidden demand’ for green hydrogen, of up to 540TWh in the near term and 1,200-1,400TWh in the medium-term. Windpower Monthly has asked for clarification on the time frame for this demand.

José Luis Blanco, CEO of Nordex Group, said: “Hydrogen is one of the elements set to support the energy transition toward a climate neutral economy. To achieve this, it is crucial that hydrogen is produced with renewable energies. Wind power is a cheap and reliable renewable source for the production of renewable hydrogen.”

The research comes from the new Renewable Hydrogen Coalition, in which WindEurope joined with SolarPower Europe and Breakthrough Energy to pool a network of innovators, entrepreneurs and corporate leaders. The report was produced by clean energy innovation and energy transition consultancy Material Economics.

Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, said: “In order to ensure that the European Commission’s ambitious climate targets are met, and that all sectors are decarbonised before 2050, renewable hydrogen provides the missing link, and the Renewable Hydrogen Coalition is ready to amplify Europe's position on this technology and provide the necessary network and input.”

The announcement comes as European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, set a goal of 10 million tonnes by 2030 of renewable hydrogen by 2030, on the back of the European Commission’s EU hydrogen strategy published in July.

Europe needs to act with speed and scale in four areas, the paper argues, including establishing lead markets like green fertilisers and steel. It must also mobilise massive investments, especially in renewables, with more than 280GW of dedicated capacity likely to be required. The pace of innovation must also be accelerated, from early-stage research, through demonstration, deployment and scale-up.

Anja Dotzenrath, CEO of RWE Renewables, said: “To help decarbonise industry and hard-to-electrify sectors, the European Hydrogen Strategy foresees 80-120GW of renewables are needed by 2030 to generate Renewable Hydrogen.

“Offshore wind can provide this additionality, but some prerequisites need to be fulfilled: offshore areas need to be auctioned and assigned fast and developers need a stable and effective support framework (carbon contract for difference). Furthermore, to incentivize hydrogen demand & supply the burden of levies and taxes on electricity need to be reduced.”

Hard-to-electrify sectors typically include transport and heating.

The launch of the coalition coincides with the first ‘EU Hydrogen Week’, which aims to highlight the importance of renewable hydrogen within the aims of the European Green Deal and climate neutrality. The coalition aims to aid decarbonisation in Europe and to inform the policy debate on renewable hydrogen.