Written by Gregor Erbach with Sarah Svensson.
Renewable hydrogen has the potential to play a significant role in the energy system as a versatile energy carrier and feedstock that can help decarbonise a variety of applications in areas such as heavy industry, chemicals manufacturing, transportation, and electricity generation and storage. Hydrogen can be produced through the electrolysis of water with renewable electricity, using different setups that vary in terms of cost, impact on the electricity system and carbon emissions.
Today, renewable hydrogen makes up a small fraction of total hydrogen production. Most hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels and, although cheaper, it causes carbon emissions. Demand for renewable hydrogen is expected to grow quickly as the need for climate-friendly solutions increases. While the falling cost of renewable electricity certainly plays a role in boosting this demand, sustaining it still requires support measures aimed at growing the market and bringing down the cost of electrolysers. To avoid a situation where renewable electricity used for hydrogen production is diverted away from other uses, it is important to ensure additionality, i.e. additional renewable electricity capacity for renewable hydrogen production.
On 10 February 2023, in line with the requirements of the Renewable Energy Directive, the Commission adopted two delegated regulations: one defining rules on renewable hydrogen production and clarifying the additionality criteria for renewable electricity, and another setting out a methodology to calculate lifecycle GHG emissions. The European Parliament and the Council of the EU have four months to approve or reject the rules, but they cannot amend them. On 28 March 2023, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) decided not to raise an objection to the delegated regulation on additionality. Having in place definitive criteria for renewable hydrogen is key to making investment decisions and to launching EU and Member State initiatives that can support the growth of the European hydrogen industry.
Read the complete briefing on ‘EU rules for renewable hydrogen: Delegated regulations on a methodology for renewable fuels of non-biological origin‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.
Listen to policy podcast ‘EU rules for renewable hydrogen’ on YouTube.