Why von der Leyen’s ‘European Hydrogen Bank’ is a bad idea

(EurActiv, 16 Sep 2022) President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announced on Wednesday (14 September) the intention of creating a new ‘European Hydrogen Bank’. However, hydrogen is not an energy source but an energy sink, requiring vast amounts of electricity to be produced, writes Jonas Helseth.

Jonas Helseth is director of the EU office of the environmental NGO Bellona, which promotes decarbonisation strategies for society.

The State of the EU speech by European Commission President von der Leyen predicably and understandably followed the lines of recent EU policy on Ukraine and Russia and addressed the energy crisis – notably with highly anticipated plans for capping energy prices. 

However, one specific element of the President’s speech came as a surprise, not only to outsiders but apparently also to many of her Commission colleagues: the announcement to “create a new European Hydrogen Bank”.

There have already been signals that this Commission has been easy prey for the hydrogen hype. A hype that appears to have captured its leadership.

We now see a departure from the initially quoted reasons for promoting hydrogen in the first place: to provide a renewable alternative to fossil fuels; to support the EU Green Deal and deliver on the Paris Agreement’s climate ambition. 

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EurActiv, 16 Sep 2022: Why von der Leyen’s ‘European Hydrogen Bank’ is a bad idea