The EHA, as a Energy and Hydrogen Alliance of European national and technical experts, at its Annual General Meeting on December 14, 2018 has adapted its game plan to address the increasing need for concrete action to deploy hydrogen solutions where they fit best. Our first action is to get you on your feet to effectively convince your network in 2019 to embrace fuel cell and hydrogen technologies to accelerate Europe’s energy transition away form a long foregone era of fossil fuels.

By offering you an exciting list of news items, to scroll through when you long for some action during the holidays, please find an update of EU and international policy and industry highlights (do not miss our maritime update!) that will convince the most sceptic family member; from the 10 MW largest electrolyser announcement in the beginning of 2018 to the latest Dutch 100 MW ambition!  Season’s Greatings and Best Wishes for a great start of the New Year of the EHA team in Brussels!

After nearly 2 years of negotiations, the Presidency of the Council and representatives of the European Parliament on December 19, 2018  reached a provisional agreement on a directive and a regulation on electricity. The two files set out the future functioning of the EU’s electricity market and are cornerstones of the clean energy package. The agreement still has to be endorsed by the Council and the European Parliament. The reform of electricity market rules  most importantly includes a 2025 cut-off for coal subsidies, except for Poland which negotiated a special clause. The deal is the wrap up of the Clean Energy Package which was officially presented in 2016. For the first time  limits are included for coal subsidies by introducing a CO2 emission performance standard of 550g per kilowatt hour on all new power plants. Poland will have an exemption for the existing power plants but will comply with the 550 rule to existing coal power plants as of 1 July 2025.

“Today’s message is clear: this is the last call for coal,” “We are taking a step beyond coal and a step towards the age of renewable energy,” said Florent Marcellesi, a Green lawmaker from Spain who was on the European Parliament’s negotiating team. However, there are voices that the deal is not sufficient to comply with the Paris Agreement’s goal to keep global warming below  2°C.
In the new electricity directive customers will be able to participate directly in the market as active customers, for example by selling self-generated electricity, participating in demand response schemes or joining citizens energy communities. The directive also ensures that customers have access to price comparison tools, smart meters and dynamic electricity price contracts. By no later than 2026, customers will be able to switch electricity suppliers within 24 hours. The electricity directive also sets out the regulatory framework for transmission and distribution system operators.

The new Electricity regulation will ensure that  electricity generation from renewable forms of energy can be accommodated, without creating discriminatory provisions or market distortions.The regulation lays down the conditions under which member states can establish capacity mechanisms and the principles for their creation. These mechanisms aim at ensuring that the supply of electricity is sufficient during times of peak demand by remunerating resources for their availability. They have to be temporary and designed to address an identified resource adequacy concern.

An emission limit of 550 gr CO2 of fossil-fuel origin per kWh of electricity is put in place. New power plants that emit more than that and which start commercial production after entry into force of the regulation will no longer be able to participate in capacity mechanisms. Existing power plants emitting more than 550 gr CO2 of fossil-fuel origin per kWh and 350 kg CO2 on average per year per installed kW will not be able to participate in capacity mechanisms after 1 July 2025. The new provisions will help the EU reach its climate targets and at the same time protect investment security thanks to a grandfathering clause for capacity contracts that were concluded before 31 December 2019

The EU Council on December 4 2019 signed off on revised directive on energy efficiency and a revised directive on renewable energy. By 2030, 32% of energy from renewable sources 14 % in transport , energy efficiency headline target of 32.5%. The new targets are set out in a. The Council also signed off on the so-called governance regulation, which sets out the framework for the governance of the Energy Union and climate action. This completes the final stage in the legislative procedure for the three files, which are part of theClean Energy package.

On 4/12/2018 a stakeholder event organized by Euroactive and E.on took place  focussing on the role of local energy communities and their future in the low-carbon energy market. It included stakeholders from various institutions, local authorities, and industries such as E.ON, European Parliament or SolarPower.

The general tone of the panel and the following discussion was positive towards the local energy communities and the need to establish them. However, it was noted by multiple parties that the local energy communities will be only a part of a decentralized system where large companies will still play the prime role. Furthermore, as Aurelie Beauvais of SolarPower Europe noted, the EU varies country by country and while, for example, the Netherlands are already establishing local low carbon communities, Poland or Romania are very much behind and their authorities do not see it as a priority. Moreover, the member states also have various legislation, and while in some countries only 1-2 people can establish a cooperative, in other countries at least seven people are needed. Hence, it is complicated to talk about it on the EU level.

One of the positives of the local citizen energy communities is that they bring more welfare and benefits to the economy and share the awareness of the development of other sources since it engages local companies, engineers, various business and in overall contributes to lower unemployment and economy. However, it also brings challenges, such as the market design and how to engage more citizens to market obligations and make them take the responsibility. It was noted by Luis Hernandez Head of Decentral Energy System Innovation E-ON that this should be always on a volunteer basis and that it is clear that many consumers will prefer to stay passive and will not be part of the local energy communities. Another issue discussed was the need to ensure that the consumers are not double charged by their local cooperative and by the large energy companies for their power and how to maintain the services and power at a competitive price. Flexibility will be one of the key objectives in the future energy systems.

Furthermore, Luis Hernandez noted that the activity of citizens is another key objective to the success of the future of new energy system, for instance attracting citizens to interact with each other and to share their appliances, In relation to the 2050 strategy, Manon Dufour claimed that the action will be too late and we have to act now, however, the following discussing on how to do it did not bring any specific solutions, even though that Dufour stated that scientists and industries have everything ready. Moreover, it was said that while Europe is willing to move forward cleaner energy, other countries such as the USA, China or Brazil have no ambition to do so.