Unlocking The Full Potential Of Hydrogen In Europe

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      Hydrogen is a highly abundant component of the universe and is currently enjoying unparalleled momentum in Europe and around the world. With its ambition to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, Europe needs to speed up its energy transition and reduce by at least 55% its greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decade. 

      The transition towards a low-carbon economy is both an imperative challenge and a great opportunity to build a better future for our society. Clean hydrogen, whether blue or green, can indeed play a critical role in the decarbonisation path.

      Hydrogen can enable economic sectors, in particular power generation, industries, transport, and buildings to substantially reduce their carbon footprint. Today, hydrogen production has a high environmental footprint because it mostly comes from fossil fuels. According to the International Energy Agency, hydrogen is responsible for around 830 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

      The challenge is to scale up clean hydrogen produced from zero-emission electricity such as renewable and nuclear energy, and accelerate the deployment of hydrogen-based applications. Two other  important challenges are to make clean hydrogen economically viable by lowering the costs of the electrolysis process and developing hydrogen transport infrastructure.

      Europe is at a turning point to make the hydrogen economy a reality. With the publication of its Strategy for Hydrogen last summer, the EU laid out its vision to support the growth of clean hydrogen, outlined a number of key actions, and presented three strategic phases in the timeline up to 2050.

      Hydrogen, which currently accounts for less than 2% of Europe’s energy mix, is expected to represent around 14% by 2050. The roadmap aims at establishing a framework that will enable a functioning hydrogen market.

      The launch of the Clean Hydrogen Alliance which gathers together major players from the whole value chain – from production to application – will facilitate the necessary investment to help the scaling up of hydrogen technologies across the continent.

      Regarding the legislative process, the Council adopted its conclusion in December calling on the Commission to further elaborate and operationalise the EU Hydrogen Strategy while the European Parliament is expected to adopt its position in Spring. This may lead to intense – but interesting nonetheless – political debates.

      In this edition of the European Files, we explore the potential for a hydrogen-powered future in Europe through the perspective of policymakers and businesses. Their contributions analyse the existing economic and political hurdles and recommend policy incentives that will enable the upscaling of clean hydrogen technologies and support the transition towards a low-carbon economy.

      Editorial by
      Laurent Ulmann &
      Cyrille Mai Thanh


      Laurent ULMANN