Hydrogen as a way to the Europe’s clean energy transition
The rapid cost decline of renewable energy, technological developments and the urgency to drastically reduce greenhouse emissions, are opening up new possibilities.
The European Green Deal sets out a vision of how the EU can turn clean hydrogen into a viable solution to decarbonise different industrial sectors over time: the priority then, is to develop renewable hydrogen, the most compatible option with the EU’s climate neutrality and zero pollution goal in the long term and the most coherent with an integrated energy system.
Hydrogen can be used as a feedstock, a fuel or an energy carrier and storage, and has many possible applications across industry, transport, power and buildings sectors. Most importantly, it does not emit CO2 and almost no air pollution when used.
Yet, today, hydrogen is still largely produced from fossil fuels, notably from natural gas or from coal, resulting in the release of 70 to 100 million tonnes CO2 annually in the EU, but the new commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
There are many reasons why hydrogen is a key priority to achieve the Europe’s clean energy transition: renewable electricity for instance, is expected to decarbonise a large share of the EU energy consumption by 2050, but not all of it. Hydrogen has a strong potential to bridge some of this gap, as a vector for renewable energy storage, alongside batteries, and transport. Furthermore, hydrogen can replace fossil fuels in some carbon intensive industrial processes, such as in the steel or chemical sectors, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and further strengthening global competitiveness for those industries.
Eventually the European Commission also stated that investment in hydrogen will foster sustainable growth and jobs, which will be critical in the context of recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
For more information read the full text of the EU hydrogen strategy for a climate-neutral Europe here.