As the focus of the proposed European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), unlocking 315 bln in the coming 3 years , will be on on infrastructure, notably energy networks as well as transport infrastructure in industrial centres and broadband education, research and innovation; and renewable energy and in SMEs and middle capitalisation companies the question for the hydrogen community will be how to tick the right boxes with bankable proposals.  Although the fund  is built on a guarantee of “only” € 16 billion from the EU budget, combined with € 5 billion committed by the EIB,  prudent estimates from EC’s historical experience indicate that the multiplier effect of the Fund will be 1:15. The Investment Plan will enable finance to reach the real economy through the creation of a transparent pipeline identifying viable projects at EU level and providing the necessary technical assistance to support project selection and structuring and the use of more innovative financial instruments. It will also support risk finance for SME and mid-cap companies across Europe. It will help them to overcome capital shortages by providing higher amounts of direct equity and additional guarantees for SME loans. Member States are already providing the joint Commission-EIB Task Force established in September 2014 with lists of projects selected according to three key criteria:

  • EU value-added projects in support of EU objectives
  • Economic viability and value – prioritising projects with high socio-economic returns
  • Projects that can start at latest within the next three years, i.e. a reasonable expectation for capital expenditure in the 2015-17 period.

Recent launches of important national hydrogen infrastructure investment plans in Germany and the UK as well as in California and in Japan, plus a showcase of new attractive fuel cell cars, Toyota Mirai and even Volkswagen with a R&D model last week at the LA Motor Show demonstrate that technology H2 is ready to roll out but that “bankrolls” are still needed to accelerate numbers and thus impact impact on reducing emissions. The coming three years seem to be crucial to convince the most interested Member States that hydrogen is a safe bet and avoid ending up as/in a “bubble”. (Photo: courtesy: Autoguide)