EU to set up ‘clean hydrogen alliance’ to speed up tech development

10 Mar 2020449 Views

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Among a number of new initiatives, the EU has set up a ‘clean hydrogen alliance’ to accelerate the adoption of the energy technology.

The European Commission (EC) has launched a new strategy to aid the efforts of Europe’s industry to rapidly decarbonise as the continent works towards being carbon neutral by 2050.

Among the strategy’s most noticeable inclusions is the formation of a ‘clean hydrogen alliance’, which will be followed by alliances on low-carbon industries and raw materials.

These alliances will look to follow in the footsteps of the European Battery Alliance formed last year to accelerate the development of battery technology for electric vehicles, energy storage and other applications. The initiative received €3.2bn in state aid last December.

According to the Financial Times, EU single market commissioner Thierry Breton said hydrogen is a crucial energy source for heavy industries – such as aviation and transport – that consume significant amounts of electricity each year, often from non-renewable sources.

Hydrogen fuel is produced using electrolysis in water and a number of car manufacturers have already developed vehicles that run on the fuel, while only emitting water from an exhaust. However, the vast majority of hydrogen fuel is produced using fossil fuels such as natural gas.

‘Our job is to establish a vision’

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If hydrogen fuel is to become a mainstay in industry, it must be produced directly from renewable sources, such as wind energy. Yet efforts to do so remain prohibitively expensive, with the aviation and automotive sectors calling for government support to reduce the cost of the technology.

The new EU strategy points to the efforts of competitor markets – such as China and the US – where new technologies and trade policies have been developed much quicker. As part of a white paper scheduled for release by the middle of this year, the EU said it wants to tackle foreign access to EU funding for leading technologies.

Some of Europe’s biggest industrial groups are soon expected to meet to discuss the framework for the clean hydrogen alliance, with hopes that companies such as Air Liquide of France and Bosch of Germany become involved.

Breton said that hydrogen will be “strategically important for energy independence and the future of Europe”.

“Our job is to establish a vision,” he said. “We need to provide a strategy because we need to give visibility for investment [in] the long term.”

Colm Gorey is a senior journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

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