Meeting the European Commission’s planned mandates for green hydrogen in 2030 would increase electricity demand by 17% at a time when power prices are already at an all-time high, according to Brussels-based independent non-profit organisation Transport & Environment (T&E)

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In its latest Renewable Energy Directive proposal, the commission wants to replace 50% of the fossil-gas-derived grey hydrogen used in Europe by 2030 with green H2 produced from renewables by 2030. On top of this, also by 2030, it wants 2.6% of the energy demand from transport to come from so-called RFNBOs — renewable fuels of non-biological origin, which includes hydrogen and synthetic “e-fuels” produced from green H2. This 2.6% includes road and rail transport, as well as aviation and shipping.

Combined, these two mandates would require about 500TWh of renewable energy, said T&E — equivalent to all the wind power currently generated in Europe, or France’s total electricity consumption.

“The 2.6% of green hydrogen and e-fuels will require more renewable electricity in 2030 than all the electricity consumed by battery electric vehicles (cars, buses, trucks) in that year,” said T&E in a statement.

It added: “The European energy grid is gradually decarbonising with more renewables and less fossil-fuel coal and gas-powered electricity. But without additional renewables tied to hydrogen targets, the EU’s plan will likely result in renewables being diverted from the grid and undercut the emissions savings from electric vehicles by making the grid dirtier. With gas the most common marginal fuel to plug gaps, this strategy would be punishingly expensive with gas prices so high.”

Geert Decock, electricity and energy manager at T&E, added: “The EU is playing a high risk hydrogen strategy. We do need hydrogen for ships and planes, but it is reckless to heap unnecessary pressure on wind and solar when clean electricity will be needed to power the growing number of electric cars and heat pumps for homes.

“The EU must ensure that any hydrogen production is coupled with new renewable energy generation. Otherwise today’s high gas and electricity prices will feel like a bargain compared with what’s to come.”