Europe Lags Behind in Clean Hydrogen Plans

Alongside solar and wind energy, hydrogen is another alternative energy source with the potential to accelerate the phase-out of dirty fossil fuels such as coal and oil. Using hydrogen for energy purposes does not produce emission. In addition, hydrogen can be combined with other gases to make liquid fuels, and already existing infrastructure can be reworked to serve hydrogen.

This makes hydrogen an invaluable asset for nations trying to decrease and eventually eliminate their reliance on fossil fuels without having to make significant investments in green-energy infrastructure. But while experts predict hydrogen will be a major source of renewable energy in the future, the European Union (EU) is still far behind where it needs to be to reach its green-energy goals. For the EU to meet those goals, the region will have to ramp up green-hydrogen production significantly over the next few years.

According to Blandine Malvault, the European Union’s regulatory advisor for renewable energy production giant Iberdrola, decarbonizing Europe’s heavy industries and other sectors that contribute to greenhouse-gas emissions will require more than one method. Electrification is allowing governments worldwide to cut greenhouse-gas emissions, but Malvault notes that that approach isn’t always feasible or cost effective. Consequently, alternatives such as renewable hydrogen could supplement electrification and help the EU achieve its green energy goals.

The European Union has already classified green hydrogen as a fuel of the future and plans to generate at least 10 million tons of the fuel and import an additional 10 million tons by the end of 2030. However, the region was producing only 20,000 tons of renewable hydrogen in 2022, meaning it is still a long way from meeting its 2030 goal. Since 96% of this hydrogen was produced via natural gas, the process produces plenty of carbon emissions, negating many of the environmental benefits derived from hydrogen-energy use. The EU will have to accelerate green-hydrogen production significantly over the next six years to eliminate emissions from the process and generate 10 million tons of the fuel by the end of the decade.

Iberdrola’s green hydrogen development manager Carlos Funez Guerra says hydrogen producers in the region will need a clear regulation and permitting process as well as access to the power grid. Furthermore, Blandine Malvault says funding green-hydrogen projects in Europe will need significant funding. The European Commission has already invested $23.8 billion into implementing a clean-hydrogen regulatory framework. The commission also rolled out the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance in 2020 to bring major industry stakeholders together and support the launch of large-scale green-hydrogen projects in Europe.

While hydrogen still has a long way to go before becoming a readily available fuel option for vehicles, companies such as Mullen Automotive Inc. (NASDAQ: MULN) already have vehicle models that run on rechargeable batteries, and these vehicles are gaining traction in the market with each passing year.

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