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Hydrogen Power

Europe seeks to lead on green hydrogen

EU targets $67 billion investment within 10 years

by Alex Scott
October 15, 2019 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 97, ISSUE 41

The European Commission (EC) has unveiled a new initiative, in partnership with the industry association Hydrogen Europe, to promote production of green hydrogen across the European Union. The aim is to generate hydrogen via renewable-energy-powered water electrolysis for use as a carbon-free fuel and chemical raw material.

Big plans

Silver Frog is one of the largest of the proposed projects

H2 production: 800,000 metric tons (t) per year

CO2 saving: 8 million t per year

Cost: $12 billion–20 billion

Energy input: 15GW from solar and wind

Technology: Water electrolysis

H2 end use: Refineries, chemical plants

Location: Several EU countries, including Italy

Source: Meyer Burger, Hydrogenics Europe

The initiative will feature at least eight substantial green hydrogen projects to be implemented in the next 5–10 years. They will require a combined investment of more than $67 billion, according to Hydrogen Europe. A substantial part of the investment would go toward increasing solar and wind energy capacity to provide the needed electricity. Some of the money is set to come from the European Commission and national governments, with the rest from companies.

“Europeans really can lead on this,” Frans Timmermans, the EC vice president-elect for Europe’s Green Deal—a plan to turn Europe into a zero greenhouse gas emissions region—recently told members of the European Parliament.

Today, according to the consulting firm IHS Markit, producing hydrogen via electrolysis is considerably more expensive than producing the fuel from natural gas—even if by-product CO2 is captured and stored. But falling costs for electrolyzers could eventually close that gap, the firm says.

That’s what the EC is counting on. Collectively, it claims, the eight projects could generate in excess of 3 million metric tons (t) of hydrogen and save 35 million t of CO2 annually. A workshop is scheduled for next month in Brussels to match industrial firms with suitable partners along the hydrogen production supply chain.

One of the largest projects, dubbed Silver Frog, aims to deliver 800,000 t per year of green hydrogen to industrial users, including fertilizer producers.

“Hydrogen technologies are ready today for deployment. No need to wait another 10 years to reap the benefits for climate action,” Christian Weinberger, the EC’s senior adviser on advanced industrial technologies and hydrogen coordinator, said in a statement.

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