Green energy companies united in the Renewable Hydrogen Coalition have made a series of policy recommendations in order to ramp up a green hydrogen industry and infrastructure in Europe, and make the continent a global leader in the emerging sector.
The coalition formed in November includes sector heavyweights such as Orsted, Enel, Iberdrola, RWE, Siemens Gamesa, Vestas, Enercon, or SMA. As part of its ‘Policy Charter’, it states that renewable hydrogen (produced via electrolysis from renewable energy sources) is the necessary link for Europe to fully decarbonise its economy, and makes demand for new support schemes and tax adjustments for it.
“Europe has committed to decarbonise its energy system. Renewable electricity will take care of most of that,” WindEurope chief executive Giles Dickson said.
“But some sectors cannot be electrified. For them, renewable hydrogen is the missing link.”
SolarPower Europe CEO Walburga Hemetsberger added that achieving the goals of the European Green Deal will require a significant scaling-up of renewable deployments, and signalled that solar is ready to contribute.
But she also cautioned: “To support job-intensive renewable-based hydrogen, we need to see stronger EU electricity grids and standardised permitting procedures.”
The Policy Charter makes recommendations in three main areas: ‘Establish lead markets for renewable hydrogen’, ‘Scale up the renewable hydrogen industry and infrastructure’, and ‘Develop an enabling EU regulatory framework for renewable hydrogen’.
To build up a renewable hydrogen economy with a full value chain, national governments and the EU should speed-up a renewable-based electrification, and identify priority (hard-to-electrify) sectors that will form the bulk of the EU’s future demand for renewable hydrogen and derived e-fuels.
Support and taxes
For a rapid scale-up of the hydrogen industry, renewable generation should be massively deployed, while investments should be streamlined in renewable hydrogen infrastructure, the group recommends.
That way, the coalition hopes to avoid spending taxpayer money on stranded assets and carbon lock-in. Part of this is to give careful consideration to the re-purposing or extension of existing gas infrastructure for hydrogen.
The coalition for the ramp-up of the hydrogen sector also demands the introduction of support mechanisms enabling a competitive uptake of renewable hydrogen and derived e-fuels in hard-to-electrify sectors. Schemes should include capital grants and contracts for difference (CfDs) to make renewable hydrogen competitive relative to “incumbent alternatives” – which probably means fossil fuels.
The measures for the renewable hydrogen sector to take off also include the establishment of EU-wide regulation, such as a common definition of what renewable hydrogen is: “It should be clear that renewable hydrogen is produced via water electrolysis using renewable electricity,” the charter states.
Governments should also ensure a level playing field between energy carriers through adjusting taxes, levies and preventing distortions on grid tariffs for electricity.
EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson already reacted positively to the policy recommendations by the renewables sector.
"The Commission launched its ambitious hydrogen strategy last year and I am very happy to see the private sector taking action. We need to boost all links in the European hydrogen value chain and this is exactly what the Renewable Hydrogen Coalition has set out to do with the charter published today.”