As part of a broad regulatory package for hydrogen to facilitate the necessary energy infrastrucuture investments, state aid rules and targets for renewable hydrogen in industry and transport (10 million tonnes of domestic renewable hydrogen production and 10 million tonnes of imported renewable hydrogen in line with the REPowerEU Plan) the EU Commission on February 13, 2023  proposed detailed rules to define what constitutes renewable hydrogen in the EU, with the adoption of two Delegated Acts required under the Renewable Energy Directive.

The first Delegated Act defines under which conditions hydrogen, hydrogen-based fuels or other energy carriers can be considered as   renewable fuels of non-biological origin, RFNBO and clarifies the principle of “additionality” for hydrogen . The Act set out in the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive. For both domestic as third countries hydrogen projects that will start operating before 1 January 2028, electrolysers to produce hydrogen will have to be connected to contracted renewable electricity production on a monthly basis, complementing electrification efforts, while avoiding pressure on power generation. An estimated 500 TWh of renewable electricity is needed to meet the 2030 ambition in REPowerEU of producing 10 million tonnes of RFNBOs. The 10Mt ambition in 2030 corresponds to 14% of total EU electricity consumption. This ambition is reflected in the Commission proposal to increase the 2030 target for renewables to 45%.

The second Delegated Act provides a methodology for calculating life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions for RFNBOs. The methodology takes into account greenhouse gas emissions across the full lifecycle of the fuels, including upstream emissions, emissions associated with taking electricity from the grid, from processing, and those associated with transporting these fuels to the end-consumer. The methodology also clarifies how to calculate the greenhouse gas emissions of renewable hydrogen or its derivatives in case it is co-produced in a facility that produces fossil-based fuels.

Following today’s adoption, the Acts will now be transmitted to the European Parliament and the Council, which have 2 months to scrutinise them and to either accept or reject the proposals. At their request, the scrutiny period can be extended by 2 months. There is no possibility for the Parliament or Council to amend the proposals.

In 2020, the Commission adopted a Hydrogen Strategy setting out a vision for the creation of a European hydrogen ecosystem from research and innovation to production and infrastructure, and development of international standards and markets. Hydrogen is expected to play a major role in the decarbonisation of industry and heavy-duty transport in Europe and globally. As part of the ‘ the Commission has introduced several incentives for its uptake, including mandatory targets for the industry and transport sectors.

Hydrogen is also a key pillar of the  to get rid of Russian fossil fuels. The Commission has outlined a ‘Hydrogen Accelerator’ concept to scale up the deployment of renewable hydrogen. In particular, the REPowerEU Plan aims for the EU to produce 10 million tonnes and import 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen by 2030.

On top of the 2020 EU Hydrogen Strategy the Commission’s regulatory framework in which it laid out mandatory targets in the Fit for 55′ package, and the REPowerEU Plan  is also facilitated by Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEIs). The first IPCEI, called “IPCEI Hy2Tech“, which includes 41 projects and was approved in July 2022, aims at developing innovative technologies for the hydrogen value chain to decarbonise industrial processes and the mobility sector, with a focus on end-users. In September 2022, the Commission approved “IPCEI Hy2Use“, a second project which complements IPCEI Hy2Tech and which will support the construction of hydrogen-related infrastructure and the development of innovative and more sustainable technologies for the integration of hydrogen into the industrial sector. A third Mobility and Transport project is under review.

Photo Courtesy Gasunie, Gasunie plans to build a hydrogen network crossing the German part of the North Sea, transporting green Hfrom future offshore wind farms and enable large-scale hydrogen imports from Norway to Europe’s largest economy.