In a recent speech to the European parliament, the European Commissioner for Energy (Kadri Simson) said that “hydrogen will be a central element in the energy system integration strategy that the European Commission will present in June”
She indicated that by linking previously separate energy systems, the Commission could enable a more efficient energy system overall – for instance by using excess renewable electricity to create green hydrogen for use later.
This is seen as a key enabler for hard to decarbonise sectors like heavy industry & transport
Commentators have also linked the push by the EU into hydrogen with moves to accelerate development of Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS), which would allow production from traditional fossil fuels via so called blue hydrogen.
Analysis and Comments
To be fair to Ms Simson, the bulk of her speech (which can be found here) was actually given over to less controversial measures such as energy efficiency in buildings & renewable energy including off shore wind.
It’s not clear exactly what it is that the European Commission is going to propose in June.
It seems that some countries (such as the Netherlands) are keen to create a European wide market for hydrogen “ as soon as possible”. This seems to be focused on grey hydrogen – produced from natural gas combined with CCS – to make a bridge to green hydrogen in around a decade or so.
This is a topic that our various research teams have written on extensively. The EU carbon price is key to many of these technologies being economically viable.
Already mature technologies/processes will provide the deep emissions reduction required by the most highly carbon-intensive sectors.
These include steam methane reformation (SMR), coal gasification and partial oxidation of oil – so basically traditional extraction of hydrogen from fossil fuels.
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