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EU hydrogen strategy needs to prioritise hard-to-decarbonise transport modes

Clean transport campaign group, Transport and Environment (T&E) has called on the EU to prioritise hydrogen development for the aviation and shipping industries.

Tomorrow (July 8) in Brussels, the college of European Commissioners will formally adopt its EU Hydrogen Strategy to help decarbonise the EU economy.

This strategy will be launched together with its Strategy on Smart Sector Integration.

The hydrogen strategy will outline concrete steps the EU can take to support all aspects of hydrogen production.

The integration strategy will aim to better incorporate different energy sectors that have lived separate lives until recently (in particular the power and transport sectors).

In addition, a Clean Hydrogen Alliance – involving industry and other stakeholders – will be launched simultaneously to support the Commission in developing new initiatives to support the hydrogen sector.

T&E submitted its response to the Commission’s consultation on the EU Hydrogen Strategy and supported an NGO coalition letter calling on the Commission to focus on lead markets for sustainably produced, renewable hydrogen.

The EU Hydrogen Strategy will outline the next steps on hydrogen for the European Commission:

  • Start exploring legislative options to boost the production and supply of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation and shipping. T&E says these should include an operational CO2 standard for ships calling at EU ports and a GHG reduction target for aviation fuel suppliers focusing only on advanced fuels.
  • Under the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II), establish sustainability criteria for hydrogen. In transport, this should require fuel to be produced from new and additional renewable electricity sources.
  • Assess the need for hydrogen refueling infrastructure under the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Directive. Sea ports are a good starting place, as they bring together hydrogen production and imports with hydrogen demand from drayage operations, ships and industry.
  • Launch a Contracts for Difference programme for green hydrogen and synthetic fuels to ensure uptake in shipping and aviation through a guaranteed floor price. In the case of aviation, this system could be supported financially by the aviation sector, with the abolition of free allowances under the EU emissions trading system.

Geert De Cock, electricity and energy manager at T&E, commented: “The EU Hydrogen Strategy will make clear whether the European Commission means business.

“Will it start tackling the hard-to-decarbonise sectors like aviation and shipping that until now have escaped meaningful climate action?

“Will it resolutely choose an energy system based on energy efficiency and renewables or throw a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry by investing in fossil gas-based hydrogen?”