Hydrogen is having a moment. Globally, stakeholders of all kinds are looking to the zero-emission fuel as a way to decarbonize energy intensive industries and combat climate change. Among these stakeholders, governmental entities are embracing dedicated plans and roadmaps that focus on the deployment and widespread adoption of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. This is especially important as governments have massive influence over the direction of economies and the progression of technology. The European Union (EU) is one of the leading regions pushing for these plans and investments.
Europe is experiencing a push for hydrogen from many of its member countries who recognize the myriad benefits that a hydrogen economy will provide. In July 2020, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, and Luxemburg banded together and encouraged the European Commission to increase funding for hydrogen. As a result, the European Commission published the EU Hydrogen Strategy, a pledge to allocate part of a €750 billion (~$825 billion) coronavirus recovery fund to support a clean hydrogen economy. The plan was released concurrently with the EU Strategy for Energy System Integration to provide a full transition plan by addressing energy efficiency, electrification, and more. The European Commission detailed how hydrogen energy can support deep decarbonization of industry, transport, power generation, and buildings, while providing a guide to investments, regulation, market creation, and research and development.
Earlier in 2020, FCHEA covered some of these governmental plans, including those from Germany and Netherlands. Since then, more European countries have released hydrogen strategy plans, signaling a continent-wide movement towards the clean technology.
France has launched a €100 billion (~$121 billion) recovery plan that includes €2 billion (~$2.34 billion) for developing a renewable hydrogen sector in the country. The fund will support regional hydrogen projects and a support mechanism for electrolysis to generate hydrogen, which includes a call for tenders and additional remuneration, along with a demonstration project. 40% of the funding will come from the European Commission’s recovery plan.
Expanding on the hydrogen provisions within the country’s recovery plan, France launched a €7 billion (~8.52 billion) clean hydrogen plan to invest in infrastructure and research by 2030. The plan focuses on decarbonizing industrial sectors which already make hydrogen, as well as calling for 6.5 gigawatts (GW) of electrolysis capacity by 2030.
Spain has approved a hydrogen plan focusing on clean hydrogen production. Spain estimates the hydrogen ambitions will cost €8.9 billion (~$10.83 billion) over the next ten years, much of which the country expects to come from the private sector. The country intends to install 4 GW of electrolyzers by 2030.
Finland has launched their National Hydrogen Roadmap through Business Finland. It focuses on low carbon hydrogen production, hydrogen for green chemicals and fuels, storage, transport, and end use over the next ten years. The Roadmap will serve as a knowledge base for future work, and hydrogen is expected to play an important role to help Finland achieve their goal of net neutrality by 2035.
Italy has prepared a draft document called the National Hydrogen Strategy Preliminary Guidelines as a way to decarbonize the economy while the country phases out coal and boosts renewable energy production. The Italian Industry Ministry intends to invest €10 billion (~$12 billion) into the hydrogen sector to 2030. Half the money will come from European funds and private investments. The document includes plans to introduce 5 GW of renewable-powered electrolysis over the period. It estimates that by 2030, hydrogen could make up 2% of Italy’s final energy demand while eliminating 8.8 million tons of CO2, creating more than 200,000 jobs, and contribute €27 billion (~$32,9 billion) to Italy’s gross domestic product (GDP). By 2050, the document estimates hydrogen could make up 20% of energy demand.
In September 2020, the UK House of Lords discussed the possibility of a UK hydrogen strategy, noting the global hydrogen economy is set to be worth $2.5 trillion and create 30 million jobs by 2050. The discussion was reiterated in October, and the United Kingdom is expected to release a hydrogen strategy in the first quarter of 2021.
What America can learn
2020 has proven that in the face of adversity, Europe views hydrogen technologies as a beacon for future decarbonization and energy security. A dedicated, governmental strategy focused on bringing hydrogen to scale is crucial to the success of the technology, and therefore essential to long-term deep-decarbonization across many sectors. It is time that the United States develops a national hydrogen strategy of its own, to boost the growth of the technology and to remain competitive with Europe and other countries. Supported by many major private sector organizations, the McKinsey & Company study Roadmap to a US Hydrogen Economy lays out key steps that the U.S. needs to take in order to achieve this vision. Using the Roadmap, America could carve out its own plan, like the many countries before it.
This article was originally published by Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association, for additional information visit this page.