EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen at her 2023 Davos speech on January 17, 2023 strongly emphasized the need for reliable partnerships to build supply chains for energy “that we trust” and to not substitute one dependency with another. Calling “Hydrogen as the new frontier of Europe’s energy network” her comments came after an unexpected urgent letter to the EU Finacne Minsiters of her vice president, DG Competition Commisioner Margrethe Vestager to ease State Aid rules in a new Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework in addition to the 672 bln euro Temporary Crisis Framework (TCF). The TCF has been set up in March 2022 to support affected businesses by the war in Ukraine regarding high energy prices. In July 2022 the EU added two specific sectors to the TCF , renewable energy and decarbonistation technologies. Germany, 53% and France 24% applied for most of this funding to subsidize their national industries in this field, but also Italy, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands are among the higher consumers of these funds.

According to Commissioner Vestager the now proposed TCTF is urgently needed to address the main current EU challenges; high energy prices, shortage of skilled labour and the risks of relocation of EU businesses caused by the US Inflation Reduction Act. In addition to the already ongoing changes that the Commission is proposing for the General Block Excemption Regulation (GBER), revised in 2021 and again under revision to further support hydrogen and electric vehicles,CEEAG, State Aid for Climate Environmental Protection and Energy that in 2022 allowed for 51 bln approved wind solar and electrolyzer projects, the TCTF proposal seeks to ease the calculation of the amount of aid and approval processes and expand it to all renewable technologies. In addition the TCTF proposal  includes aid for green investments in strategic sectors to counter relocation.

As the EHA since 2020 is actively supporting the development of potential hydrogen mobility projects under the Important Project For Common European Interest, that the end of last year were kicked out as they can not be defned as infrastructure projects, we continue to follow this process cosely. Commissioner Vestager in her last sentece of the letter also mentioned that ” the Commission will continue working in collaboration with Member States to make the IPCEI’s stronger, especially by making the design and assessment phases more efficient..”

Photo: Courtesy US Department of Energy Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap Proposal of September 22, 2022