Dutch urge swift EU hydrogen push to cut industry, transport emissions

(EurActiv, 19 Jul 2019) The European Commission should create an EU-wide market for hydrogen “as soon as possible” rather than wait for renewable energy-based varieties to be commercially available, a top Dutch ministerial envoy has said.

Green hydrogen – the sort coming from renewable electricity – is considered as a kind of Holy Grail by clean energy advocates because it is virtually emissions-free and can be stored for prolonged periods of time, unlike electricity.

The trouble is green hydrogen is not yet being produced on a commercial scale, a process that could take more than a decade. And energy experts say grey hydrogen – the sort coming from natural gas – is a necessary stepping stone in order to get there.

“What they call grey hydrogen, which is already being used in industry – that is an obvious starting point because it’s already happening,” said Noé van Hulst, hydrogen envoy at the ministry of economic affairs and climate policy in the Netherlands, who spoke at a recent EURACTIV event.

Around 70 million tonnes of hydrogen are currently being used globally, mostly for oil refining and chemical production, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The main upside is that hydrogen emits no CO2 when burned, and can provide clean fuel for process industries like steelmaking, petrochemicals and cement, which are otherwise heavily carbon-intensive. The downside is that this hydrogen is currently made almost entirely from fossil fuels, with significant CO2 emissions associated to it.

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EurActiv, 19 Jul 2019: Dutch urge swift EU hydrogen push to cut industry, transport emissions