German-Norwegian Working Group on Hydrogen welcomes the Hydrogen Act by Hydrogen Europe

The German-Norwegian Working Group on Hydrogen welcomes the Hydrogen Act from Hydrogen Europe and views it as an essential and constructive contribution to implementing the EU hydrogen strategy.

On 7 April, Hydrogen Europe presented the Hydrogen Act – Towards the Creation of the European Hydrogen Economy at the Hydrogen in Society – Bridging the Gaps conference, hosted by Portugal, the current holder of the EU Council presidency. The Hydrogen Act paper urges the EU to “act” on its Hydrogen Strategy released in July 2020 to “turn ambition into reality” and presents a “vision for an umbrella framework aimed at harmonising and integrating all separate hydrogen-related actions and legislations.”

“The Hydrogen Act stimulates the discussion by highlighting the need for a combination of regulatory tools and measures. It does not provide the ultimate solution but rather suggests an overall framework in which the implementation of the hydrogen strategy can fit into the green deal and the recovery package. This is a perfect setup for further deliberation on the way forward,” says Thorsten Herbert, spokesperson for the Working Group.

Three phases of development

The proposed Hydrogen Act aims to put forward a vision for a fully-fledged hydrogen economy in Europe and a proposed roadmap for its implementation. It focuses on infrastructure and market aspects, describing three phases of development:

The kickstart phase (2021-2025) will need to adopt a fast-track approach focusing on projects that demonstrate the scalability and commercialisation of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen. This approach must contribute to reaching the EU goal of 1 million tons of clean hydrogen produced per annum and at least 6 GW electrolyser capacity installed.

The ramp-up phase (2025-2035) will see large-scale storage and hydrogen backbones constructed. Regulatory support will be needed, such as tariffs, auctions/tenders, quotas, investment support, and tax relief. Guarantees of Origin must become a tradable commodity in the same lines as the green electricity Guarantees of Origin existing today.

Inthe market-growth phase (2035-2050), renewable and low-carbon hydrogen will have achieved commercial competitiveness with conventional alternatives. Mechanisms of supply and demand will largely govern price-setting. This requires regulation to ensure interoperability as well as market rules to avoid monopolistic behaviour. Clean hydrogen will be transported by using natural gas grids and can be stored seasonally in salt caverns and depleted gas fields. Low-carbon hydrogen can play an important role in an intermediate period and help kickstart the hydrogen economy by quickly bringing the necessary volumes to the market.

“Europe is well-placed to take a leading role in the development of the hydrogen economy, but only if we act now. So the kickstart phase is crucial, not only to reach our climate targets but also to stay ahead in the global competition,” says Thorsten Herbert.

Guarantees of Origin crucial aspect

The Working Group particularly welcomes the emphasis on the need for a comprehensive and science-based uniform EU- and EEA-wide terminology for renewable and low-carbon hydrogen, including CCS and low-carbon electricity.

“We wholeheartedly support the idea that the CO2 content of energy carriers should become the new currency of the energy system. The Guarantees of Origin is a crucial aspect of the Hydrogen Act. The methodology for calculating life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions should have a broadly accepted scientific approach to evaluating the CO2 footprint. Both renewable and low-carbon hydrogen must play a role in reaching our climate goals. A transparent Guarantees of Origin scheme in line with circular economy criteria will contribute to that.”

German-Norwegian Working Group on Hydrogen

The German-Norwegian Working Group is initiated to explore the potential for cooperation between Germany and Norway and define areas of common interest where German and Norwegian businesses and other stakeholders may cooperate. The goal is to establish lasting networks and to increase business opportunities for stakeholders in both countries.