Plans to ensure that all green hydrogen in the EU comes from new renewables projects “make no sense” and will hold back the sector’s development, the head of trade association Hydrogen Europe tells Recharge.
Leaked drafts of the European Commission’s long-awaited Delegated Act (DA) — which was due to be published last May — state that under its “additionality” rules, the commission would only allow hydrogen to be considered “green” if electrolysers are powered by renewables projects less than 24 months old.
But Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, chief executive of Hydrogen Europe, believes that is self-defeating, and points to India’s new interim hydrogen strategy as a far better approach.
India will allow green hydrogen to be derived from any renewable-energy source, including clean electricity bought from power exchanges.
“Last week, the Indian government adopted their own Hydrogen Strategy aiming to do the exact opposite of the additionality discussion in the European Commission,” Chatzimarkakis tells Recharge, pointing out that India will also exempt green hydrogen and ammonia producers from electricity transmission costs for 25 years.
“The race for green hydrogen production has started and Europe cannot be first in class running with weight on its shoulders. There is no reason to not recognise hydrogen produced from renewable sources as renewable if the renewable power doesn’t come from a renewable facility older than 24 months. This makes no sense.”
He points out that the EU proposals would not even allow hydrogen produced from excess renewable energy to be considered green, and therefore not eligible for state support.
Hydrogen Europe is now lobbying the European Commission to change its proposals.
“In a global market where hydrogen projects have to develop rapidly, key players have both internal and external pressure to deliver GWs of electrolysers in the near term, and developers will prioritise countries where regulation and much needed support mechanisms are enablers and not showstoppers to the success of a new sector participating in the energy transition,” the association recently wrote to the commission.
“We raise deep concern that this draft DA could divert projects outside Europe, misplacing massive job opportunities and impacting the competitiveness of the European hydrogen sector in the long run as other regions of the world will in the meantime reach scale and gain knowledge to build more resilient and cheaper projects.”
The European Commission believes that its additionality rules are necessary to avoid cannibalising renewable energy that would otherwise help to decarbonise the electricity grid.
“Given the enormous amount of additional renewable electricity generation needed to progress in the decarbonisation of current fossil electricity production, this can only be ensured by including strict criteria for additionality in this methodology,” the draft Delegated Act states.
“In order to account hydrogen as fully renewable, the production of renewable hydrogen should therefore incentivise the deployment of new renewable electricity generation capacity (principle of additionality)...”
Hydrogen Europe does not propose that the principle of additionality is scrapped entirely, but wrote in its letter to the commission: “To encourage a fast scale up of innovative renewable hydrogen projects, we suggest including a grandfathering clause allowing all projects coming into operation before 2030 to have an exemption for the entire lifetime of the asset.”