The EU is aiming to produce up to 10m tonnes of renewable-sourced hydrogen as part of its grand vision of being carbon neutral by 2050.
The EU sees the rapid scaling up of hydrogen fuel production sourced from renewable energy as a potential “growth engine” to the economic damage caused by Covid-19.
Today (8 July), the European Commission launched the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance (ECHA) which aims to build up an investment pipeline for scaled-up production and will support demand for clean hydrogen in the EU.
The emphasis is on ‘clean’ because while it is possible to produce hydrogen fuel for vehicles and industrial applications sourced from renewable-generated electricity, most hydrgoen fuel produced today is is sourced from fossil fuels.
However, the EHCA and the EU said that while the priority is on sourcing hydrogen from wind and solar, in the short and medium terms it is willing to look to ‘low-carbon’ hydrogen – such as from gas – to reduce emissions in various sectors.
The new EU Hydrogen Strategy sets out a number of targets over the coming decade. These include installing at least 6GW of renewable hydrogen electrolysers in the EU between now and 2024 to produce 1m tonnes of hydrogen.
Between 2025 and 2030, the EU will aim to build 40GW of renewable hydrogen electrolysers to produce up to 10m tonnes of hydrogen.
Finally, by 2050, the technology should be rolled out on a large scale as it reaches maturity.
Europe will become ‘a global frontrunner’ in hydrogen
The EHCA (which includes industry, national and local public authorities, civil society and other stakeholders) estimates that €430bn will be needed to meet the EU’s hydrogen investment targets by 2030.
“The strategies adopted today will bolster the European Green Deal and the green recovery, and put us firmly on the path of decarbonising our economy by 2050,” said Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president for the European Green Deal.
“The new hydrogen economy can be a growth engine to help overcome the economic damage caused by Covid-19. In developing and deploying a clean hydrogen value chain, Europe will become a global frontrunner and retain its leadership in clean tech.”
Also launched today was the EU Strategy for Energy System Integration which sets out 38 actions, to provide the framework for a circular renewable energy system.
This could include the potential reuse of waste heat from industrial sites, data centres or other sources, and energy produced from bio-waste or in wastewater treatment plants.
Research efforts are underway to find how the EU can integrate different renewable energy systems into one pan-European super grid.