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EUROPEAN HYDROGEN WEEK 2021

Last week, the second European Hydrogen Week (EHW) took place in Brussels. The five-day event offered a variety of lectures, sessions and plenty of space for joint exchange and discussion of hydrogen issues. The growing importance of clean hydrogen for meeting EU climate targets, but also for the competitiveness of the European economy, was emphasised. Neele Birnbaum, energy officer of the NWN, followed the event and followed the event and prepared a short summary.

The role of clean hydrogen as an energy carrier of the future will continue to grow significantly in the coming years - the participants of the second European Hydrogen Week in Brussels agreed on this. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen opened the European Hydrogen Week (EHW) with an appeal to secure Europe's pioneering role in hydrogen through investment.

Jean-Eric Paquet from the European Commission added in his keynote regarding the EU's climate change ambitions that hydrogen will allow Europe's industry to reduce emissions and achieve the set targets. René Schutte (FCH JU Chair) later added that Europe's pioneering role could not have been achieved without public-private partnerships (PPP) and underlined their importance in promoting research and innovation (R&I).

Furthermore, Kerstin Jorna from the European Commission spoke in her keynote about the path to 2050. Ms Jorna emphasised that the research of the last years was important, but today the business case is of central importance. "It is the business case that will put us on the road to 2050," Ms Jorna said. For that to succeed, he said, Europe must not allow itself to be left behind now and must ensure that it benefits fully from its own research. Three elements are crucial for this: 1) creating a market, 2) attracting investment and 3) the regulatory framework. In concrete terms, this means creating sufficient supply and demand for hydrogen and achieving a market equilibrium. Here Ms Jorna referred to the opening words of Ursula von der Leyen, who in her opening speech spoke of the goal of reducing the cost of clean hydrogen to below 1.80 € per kilo by 2030. In addition to the price development, solid projects must be presented and stability created for investors by means of regulatory framework conditions for a successful market ramp-up, said Jorna.

Jorgo Chatzimarkakis reminded the participants in his presentation that there is no magic bullet on the 1.5 degree path. In order to achieve the climate targets, one should not only rely on green hydrogen. The CEO of Hydrogen Europe also appealed to the industry to see regulations as something positive. At the same time, however, companies should also address when these or elements of them represent a barrier. According to Chatzimarkakis, direct communication is imperative for swift action in order to prevent the migration of companies and know-how to other markets, such as the US market.

A challenge for the successful path towards 2050 is also the provision of the necessary skills. According to Manuela Geleng (Director for Skills, DG Employment, European Commission), cooperation between industry and education, with the involvement of society, is imperative to address the "skills gap". Addressing the training problem is a key element to ensure that the EU can fully benefit from its own research. In her speech, Ms Geleng also mentioned the need to create new partnerships and strengthen existing ones.

The topics of standardisation and certification were also addressed at the EHW. In the session "Standards for a Hydrogen Economy", the participants discussed the importance of standards for the hydrogen economy under the leadership of Joaquim Nunes de Almeida (Director, DG GROW, European Commission). It was agreed that the development of hydrogen codes, standards, protocols and certificates was urgently needed. Among other things, standards could help to promote innovation, the participants said.

The European Clean Hydrogen Alliance has identified a lack of standards as one of the key barriers/challenges. The good news is that we are not starting from scratch. Work on standards already started 20 years ago and the FCH JU has supported various activities. Europe is in the transition phase to a renewable energy system. This transition must now be facilitated by reliable guidance, including standards and regulations, according to the panel participants.

Lower Saxony was also involved in the European Hydrogen Week with a keynote speech by Birgit Honé, Minister for Federal and European Affairs and Regional Development. Her presentation (7:38 to 7:52), as well as the entire event, is still available online.

 

Conclusion: Much has already been achieved and it is certain that Europe is well positioned for future challenges. Now it is time to seize the opportunities ahead and overcome challenges such as scaling the entire value chain or developing "fit-for-purpose" regulations. The keynote speakers, but also the participants of the panels at the second European Hydrogen Week agreed that these are ambitious targets and that we are not yet on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. Therefore, a European framework must be created now, which guarantees that hydrogen contributes to decarbonisation and the goals/plans of the member states. With the necessary framework conditions, however, Europe could further expand its pioneering role in hydrogen applications and accelerate the development of a climate-friendly industry.