The European Union has approved a €9 billion ($9 billion), 15-nation project that will produce green hydrogen, a fuel seen as critical to the decarbonization of the heavy-emitting industries.
Marked as an Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) under state aid rules, the new hydrogen project will use the $9 billion in private investments to bring forward 40 further projects for hydrogen infrastructure. The plan includes the production of about 10 gigawatts of electrolyzers that produce hydrogen annually, using $5 billion of public support.
“Promoting clean hydrogen development and deployment in Europe is essential for our energy security, our decarbonization, and the competitiveness of our industry,” said Thierry Breton, internal market commissioner. “Europe has the vision and the firepower to rise to industrial leadership in strategic green technologies.”
The EU sees green hydrogen as a crucial technology to decarbonize heavy emitting industries like cement and steel, and thus is focused on speeding up its supply and use within its borders.
The European Union is also looking for ways to rid itself of dependence on Russian fossil fuels and wants to produce 10 million tons of clean hydrogen and import as much by the end of 2029.
Green hydrogen is seen as critical to reaching net zero targets by 2050 because it is produced in a climate-neutral manner. The process of its production, however, can be complicated and costly.
Hydrogen is also becoming one of the leading options for storing energy from renewables. Moreover, hydrogen-based fuels have the potential to transport such energy over long distances.
Clean hydrogen was part of many emissions reduction pledges at the UN Climate Conference COP26, which took place at the end of 2021. It was acknowledged as a way to decarbonize not only the heavy industry but also shipping, aviation, and long-haul freight.