Three utility-scale clean hydrogen projects have been awarded a slice of over €1.8bn ($1.81bn) in grants as part of the second large-project funding call for the EU Innovation Fund, the European Commission said yesterday, drastically increasing their likelihood of reaching commercial operation.

Among the 17 winners are two green hydrogen projects and one waste-to-hydrogen scheme, all based in the Netherlands. No information on the size of the individual grants was available at the time of writing.

“The Innovation Fund is an important tool to scale up innovations in renewable hydrogen and other solutions for European industry,” said Frans Timmermans, executive vice president of the European Commission. “Compared to the first disbursement round, the funds available have increased by 60%, enabling us to double the number of projects supported.”

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One of the two renewable H2 projects, oil giant Shell’s 400MW Holland Hydrogen 1 plant, reached FID on the first 200MW phase last week. Powered by the 750MW Hollandse Kust Noord offshore wind farm under development in the Dutch North Sea, the company aims to bring the facility on-line by 2025, before doubling capacity by 2027. The renewable hydrogen it produces will be exported by open-access pipeline to shore, replacing some of the grey hydrogen Shell uses in its Rotterdam refinery.

The other is Air Liquide’s 200MW ELYgator project in Terneuzen, engineered to produce 15,500 tonnes of green hydrogen a year via its “flexible electrolyser dispatch” model, which will produce in line with available wind and solar electricity and prevent grid congestion. The H2 production will be marketed to users in industry and the mobility sectors.

The third project, a waste-to-H2 scheme known as FUREC, is being developed by RWE to produce 54,000 tonnes of hydrogen a year from non-recyclable solid waste at an industrial cluster in Limburg. Green H2 will replace grey used in the chemical industry, RWE says, and will set up a hydrogen link between Dutch ports and Germany’s industrialised Ruhr area.

Also in receipt of funding is the 433MW Nordsee Two offshore wind farm project in the German North Sea, in which RWE has a 51% stake. The company and its partner in the project, Canada's Northland Power, plan to integrate 4MW of electolyser capacity into the project, for use in vessel refuelling and emergency power.

Earlier this month wind turbine giant Vestas began a trial of the "world's first" hydrogen-powered crew transfer vessel at the Norther Wind Farm in Belgium.

The funding comes on top of EU Innovation Fund-backed subsidies already announced by the Commission, which will support green hydrogen projects via a carbon contracts for difference (CCfD) scheme.

Hydrogen transport by pipeline is well established in the Netherlands. Last month the Dutch government announced a plan to build the world’s first national H2 transmission network, an ambitious plan based on repurposed natural gas pipelines that may be difficult to replicate in other countries.

The projects will feed into the EU’s ambitious hydrogen targets, raised as part of the REPowerEU programme, to produce ten million tonnes of green hydrogen in the bloc by 2030 and import a further ten. The feat will require 200GW of electrolysers – over 300 times the capacity of the green H2 projects granted funding this week – and 600GW of new wind and solar power.