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EU hydrogen policy: Hydrogen as an energy carrier for a climate-neutral economy

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Written by Gregor Erbach and Liselotte Jensen (updated on 12.04.2021),

Hydrogen is expected to play a key role in a future climate-neutral economy, enabling emission-free transport, heating and industrial processes as well as inter-seasonal energy storage. Clean hydrogen produced with renewable electricity is a zero-emission energy carrier, but is not yet as cost-competitive as hydrogen produced from natural gas. A number of studies show that an EU energy system having a significant proportion of hydrogen and renewable gases would be more cost-effective than one relying on extensive electrification.

Research and industrial innovation in hydrogen applications is an EU priority and receives substantial EU funding through the research framework programmes. Hydrogen projects are managed by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), a public-private partnership supported by the European Commission.

The EU hydrogen strategy, adopted in July 2020, aims to accelerate the development of clean hydrogen. The European Clean Hydrogen Alliance, established at the same time, is a forum bringing together industry, public authorities and civil society, to coordinate investment.

Almost all EU Member States recognise the important role of hydrogen in their national energy and climate plans for the 2021-2030 period. About half have explicit hydrogen-related objectives, focussed primarily on transport and industry.

The Council adopted conclusions on the EU hydrogen market in December 2020, with a focus on renewable hydrogen for decarbonisation, recovery and competitiveness. In the European Parliament, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) adopted an own-initiative report on the EU hydrogen strategy in March 2021.

Read the complete briefing on ‘Hydrogen as an energy carrier for a climate-neutral economy‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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