Renewable hydrogen: a strategic opportunity for global green recovery

(EurActiv, 10 Jul 2020) Opinion piece: This week, the European Commission presented its hydrogen strategy. It sets out how to make clean hydrogen a viable solution for a climate-neutral economy and build a dynamic hydrogen value chain in Europe in the next five years, write Kadri Simson and Francesco La Camera.

Kadri Simson is the EU Commissioner for Energy. Francesco La Camera is the director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency. This opinion piece was written exclusively for EURACTIV.

Europe’s investment in renewable hydrogen is anchored in its Green Deal strategy and commitment to zero emissions by 2050. The EU is accelerating the build-up of its renewable power capacity, particularly from off-shore wind.

It has proposed a climate law that provides policy certainty to governments and the private sector. It has similarly placed green investment, including in hydrogen electrolysers, fuel cells and storage technologies, at the centre of its 750 billion euro recovery plan “Next Generation EU”. 

This strategy is an important milestone for Europe’s energy policy, but carries a broader significance: hydrogen is a strategic opportunity and should be a shared priority at global level for a climate-safe recovery.

To deliver on the net zero objective, we need renewable based electricity, but also decarbonised fuels in sectors where electrification is not an option – like heavy industry, some areas of transport or heating.

In a world with an increasing share of renewable energy generation, the questions of storage and balancing become more and more crucial. Hydrogen can fill many of these gaps that exist at present.

Hydrogen can be used as feedstock in steel-making and in refineries, ammonia production and chemical industry. It can fuel buses, trains and trucks and in the future, potentially ships and planes. 

It can balance a renewables-based electricity system by turning electricity into hydrogen when the wind blows or the sun shines and store large amounts of this power to be used later. 

Yet, for hydrogen to realise its potential, it needs to be clean, cost-competitive, abundant and transportable. 

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EurActiv, 10 Jul 2020: Renewable hydrogen: a strategic opportunity for global green recovery