Navigating the Regulatory Environment of Hydrogen in the EU
The European Union's (EU) aggressive decarbonization goals, as outlined in the European Green Deal, have placed hydrogen firmly on the region's strategic agenda. Recognizing the potential of hydrogen as a clean, versatile, and efficient energy carrier, the EU has adopted several regulatory and policy measures to bolster its role in the energy transition. Let's take a closer look at this evolving regulatory landscape.
In July 2020, the European Commission unveiled the EU Hydrogen Strategy, aiming to accelerate the development and deployment of clean hydrogen. The plan sets ambitious targets, seeking to install at least 6GW of renewable hydrogen electrolyzers and produce up to one million tons of renewable hydrogen by 2024. By 2030, the goal is a formidable 40GW of renewable hydrogen electrolyzers and ten million tons of renewable hydrogen.
To achieve these targets, the EU has identified several essential regulatory measures. A key step is establishing a legal framework for certifying renewable and low-carbon hydrogen. This certification, akin to the Guarantees of Origin for renewable electricity, will create market confidence in the green credentials of hydrogen, ensuring its traceability and enhancing its market value.
Moreover, revising the Trans-European Networks for Energy (TEN-E) regulation will support the infrastructure development necessary for a widespread hydrogen economy. This includes the repurposing of existing gas networks for hydrogen transport and the creation of new dedicated hydrogen pipelines.
The strategy also calls for updates to the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), potentially incorporating the hydrogen sector. If executed, this could incentivize the switch from carbon-intensive grey hydrogen to green or blue variants by making carbon emissions more costly.
The Clean Hydrogen Alliance, launched alongside the strategy, serves as a collaborative platform, bringing together industry leaders, civil society, national and regional ministers, and research and innovation communities. It will help guide the implementation of the strategy, ensuring that regulatory efforts are aligned with technological advancements and market needs.
However, it's worth noting that this regulatory environment is still in its early stages, with many policies and legal adjustments yet to be finalized. The promised regulatory support, alongside substantial public and private investments, will undoubtedly play a crucial role in establishing a thriving hydrogen economy in the EU.
The EU's regulatory approach to hydrogen is groundbreaking, presenting both opportunities and challenges. It’s an exciting time for industry stakeholders, researchers, and policymakers alike, as they navigate this evolving landscape and shape the future of hydrogen in Europe.