Two new energy strategies will make green recovery a reality

The electricity for charging cars could come from the solar panels on the roofs of private houses

Photo: EU Frans Timmermans and Kadri Simson.

Delivering on the Green Deal, EU’s flagship policy, the Commission presented on Wednesday energy system integration and hydrogen strategies. They are necessary to make Europe's green recovery a reality, and they put us firmly on the path towards climate neutrality, EC Exectuive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans stressed at a news conference in Brussels, he delivered together with EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.

The new hydrogen economy can be a growth engine to help overcome the economic damage caused by Covid-19, EVP Timmermans said noting that in developing and deploying a clean hydrogen value chain, Europe will become a global frontrunner and retain its leadership in clean tech. 

The EU Strategy for Energy System Integration is introducing 38 actions. They include the revision of existing legislation, financial support, research and deployment of new technologies and digital tools, guidance to EU countries on fiscal measures and phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies, market governance reform and infrastructure planning, and improved information to consumers.

According to the nowadays pattern, energy consumption in transport, industry, gas and buildings is happening each with separate value chains, rules, infrastructure, planning and operations. It definitely cannot contribute for climate neutrality by 2050 in a cost efficient way.

Providing the framework for the green energy transition, the new strategy links different energy carriers, infrastructures, and consumption sectors to operate as a whole. Connected and flexible, this scheme will be more efficient and will lessen costs for consumers. The electricity for charging cars could come from the solar panels on the roofs of private houses, while the buildings are kept warm with heat from a nearby factory, and the factory is fuelled by clean hydrogen produced from off-shore wind energy.

The strategy opens avenue for more ‘circular' energy system, with energy efficiency at its core and will identify concrete actions to apply the ‘energy efficiency first' principle in practice and to use local energy sources more successfully in the buildings.

It also implies increasingly use electricity where possible, as the power sector has the highest share of renewables. The executive foresees a network of one million electric vehicle charging points will be among the visible results, along with the expansion of solar and wind power.

 According to the Hydrogen strategy, in an integrated energy system, hydrogen can support the decarbonisation of industry, transport, power generation and buildings across Europe. It addresses how to transform this potential into reality, through investments, regulation, market creation and research and innovation.

With 75% of the EU's greenhouse gas emissions coming from energy, we need a paradigm shift to reach our 2030 and 2050 targets, Commissioner Simson urged. She outlined that the EU's energy system has to become better integrated, more flexible and able to accommodate the cleanest and most cost-effective solutions. Hydrogen will play a key role in this, as falling renewable energy prices and continuous innovation make it a viable solution for a climate-neutral economy, she pointed out.

Hydrogen can power sectors that are not suitable for electrification and provide storage to balance variable renewable energy flows, but this can only be achieved with coordinated action between the public and private sector, at EU level, the Commission underscores. The main task is to develop renewable hydrogen, produced using mainly wind and solar energy. In the short and medium term other forms of low-carbon hydrogen are needed to rapidly reduce emissions and support the development of a viable market.

The Commission suggests a phased approach in three steps. From 2020 to 2024, will be propped up the installation of at least 6 gigawatts of renewable hydrogen electrolysers in the EU, and the production of up to one million tonnes of renewable hydrogen. Next phase - from 2025 to 2030, hydrogen needs to become an intrinsic part of our integrated energy system, with at least 40 gigawatts of renewable hydrogen electrolysers and the production of up to 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen. Renewable hydrogen technologies should reach maturity and be deployed at large scale across all hard-to-decarbonise sectors from 2030 to 2050.

The EU executive launched on the same day the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance with industry leaders, civil society, national and regional ministers and the European Investment Bank. This coalition will build up an investment pipeline for scaled-up production and will support demand for clean hydrogen in the EU.

 

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