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EU energy ministers agree hydrogen, offshore wind conclusions


Focus on green hydrogen, door open to blue hydrogen

Clusters to help member states set own priorities

IPCEI framework extended to include hydrogen projects

  • Author
  • Andreas Franke
  • Editor
  • Jonathan Dart
  • Commodity
  • Coal Electric Power Natural Gas

London — EU energy ministers have agreed framework policy conclusions to promote a European hydrogen market and foster offshore wind cooperation, German energy minister Peter Altmaier said Dec. 14 after a virtual meeting.

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The ministers called on the European Commission to outline a path to at least 6 GW of electrolysis capacity in the EU by 2024, and 40 GW by 2030.

The council's position remains focused on production of green hydrogen via electrolysis, while leaving room for low carbon alternatives such as blue hydrogen (steam methane reforming of gas plus carbon capture).

"The Council recognizes that there are different safe and sustainable low-carbon technologies for the production of hydrogen that contribute to the rapid decarbonization," it said.

Noting "unavoidable process emissions" from carbon capture, nevertheless ministers said CCS "may play a role in decarbonization for the member states that choose this technology."

The Netherlands and Denmark (alongside non-EU member states Norway and the UK) have programs to support CCS deployed in the production of blue hydrogen.

However, ministers also agreed the need to avoid sunk investment costs and to ensure the transition was not held back by lock-in effects -- a reference to over-zealous support of the oil and gas sectors via CCS.

The higher costs of renewable hydrogen should be defrayed via revision of the EU ETS and of relevant EU state aid rules, while private investment should be incentivized via existing EU instruments, funds and institutions, ministers said.

Ministerial conclusions mention support from the European cluster collaboration platform IPCEI for large-scale cross-border hydrogen projects as well as from future carbon Contracts for Difference.

Key to driving down the cost of green hydrogen is the input cost of electricity, with a separate document outlining plans for offshore wind in this context, with Germany chairing a meeting of the North Sea energy cooperation council and signing a joint declaration with Denmark to develop energy islands or hubs with both having outlined first proposals recently including offshore hydrogen production from wind.