Among the current renewable energy options, green hydrogen is making huge inroads in Europe thanks to its low environmental impact and its multiple benefits.
It comes as no surprise that the European Commission (EC) considers hydrogen as a solution that combines efficiency and decarbonisation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and Horizon 2050.
The EC has a roadmap divided into three phases up to the year 2050 with the measures needed to achieve full decarbonisation by the middle of the century:
Phase one: Between 2020 and 2024, the strategy focuses on developing a still immature sector to install at least six gigawatts of renewable hydrogen electrolysers in the EU and one million tonnes of renewable hydrogen.
Phase two: Between 2025 and 2030, the EC expects hydrogen to form an intrinsic part of an integrated European energy system, with at least forty gigawatts of renewable hydrogen electrolysers and ten million tonnes of renewable hydrogen.
Phase three: Between 2031 and 2050, hydrogen-related technologies should reach maturity and be deployed on a large scale in all industries that are difficult to decarbonise.
One of the most important points is the investment programme across the continent, which ranges from a minimum of 501.01 billion euros to a maximum of 919.2 billion euros. The goal is to transform Europe into a world power in the production and consumption of green hydrogen, and the EC wants to achieve this mainly with wind and solar energy, and to integrate its value chain to reduce costs and make it more competitive.
Experts in energy transition say that today it is the most compatible option with the goal of achieving climate neutrality and zero pollution in the EU. Europe has enough industrial power to produce the necessary electrolysers, in addition to supporting an integrated energy system with the right combination of cost and effectiveness, the possibility of creating new jobs, and economic growth. However, in Brussels they also recognise that other forms of low-carbon hydrogen must be taken into account in the short term to reduce emissions and support the development of a viable market. This is the starting point to later produce renewable hydrogen on a large scale and integrate its value chain based on production and transport.
Green hydrogen should become the source of renewable energy for many industries, including intensive ones such as chemical or metallurgical plants, where decarbonisation doesn’t seem so clear, because electrical energy requires high temperatures. Recently in Spain, Iberdrola and Fertiberia have promoted their partnership in green hydrogen with a plan to develop projects for 800 megawatts (MW) of this technology, with a total investment that would amount to 1.8 billion euros in the next seven years, always linked to European recovery funds.