EU Commission meets economy with “green” hydrogen

Green Hydrogen

The Commission no longer wants to require that the renewable electricity for hydrogen production has to be produced in the same hour as the hydrogen itself.

(Photo: dpa)

Brussels The EU Commission wants to change its highly controversial legal act on green hydrogen and apply less strict criteria. This emerges from a draft for the revision, which is available to the Handelsblatt. In doing so, the Commission is accommodating business.

The question is under which conditions hydrogen can be marketed as “green”. The Commission no longer wants to require that the renewable electricity for hydrogen production has to be produced in the same hour as the hydrogen itself. So far, the Commission has insisted on simultaneity to avoid using electricity from non-renewable energy.

These and other regulations were clearly criticized by companies that want to invest in this area. They call for accelerating the ramp-up of the hydrogen economy and therefore accepting the electricity mix from renewable energies and to a certain extent also from fossil energies for a transitional phase.

The EU Commission, on the other hand, wanted to ensure that the enormous energy requirements for hydrogen production are actually only covered with renewable energy, so that additional coal and gas do not have to be burned.

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Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans had already hinted at a change in course at a Handelsblatt conference last week. He wants to make it possible for the economy to “act as quickly as possible,” he said.

Manufacturing process becomes less clean, but accelerated

The solution should now look like this: instead of in the same hour, electricity and hydrogen should now only have to be produced within the same quarter. This would make a huge difference in the size of the wind farms and solar power plants that hydrogen producers need to invest in.

>> Read the Timmermans interview here: “We will show Americans that we know exactly how to build a hydrogen economy”

But Timmermans also emphasized that he had to “work in harmony with Parliament”. Markus Pieper (CDU), the member of parliament responsible for the Renewable Energy Directive, also criticizes the revised definition.

“The new proposal by the EU Commission is a step in the right direction, but not what is needed,” he told Handelsblatt. “Even with this new Commission proposal, we will not achieve the targets for the shares of green hydrogen in industry and transport and will largely leave the field to fossil-based hydrogen production without any real reason.”

Pieper also believes that the Commission has moved in the right direction on the issue of additionality, but not far enough. Timmermans wanted the electricity for green hydrogen to come solely from newly built solar and wind power plants. Now that will only apply from 2027.

Another provision stipulated that electricity drawn from the normal power grid had to be produced at least in the same price zone. The background is that in Sweden, for example, electricity in the north is significantly cheaper than in the south due to the high proportion of hydropower. The Commission now wants the electricity to come from a neighboring price zone. Pieper calls for the restriction to be further relaxed at this point so that green electricity can be traded freely within an EU country.

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