Hydrogen infrastructure in the EU is politically backed up by a new deal. The European Council and the European Parliament reached a provisional political agreement on March 28th, 2023 on the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) – a key piece of legislation for Europe’s hydrogen-powered road transport sector.
The Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation is part of the Fit for 55 package that aims to reduce EU’s emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. It was presented by the European Commission on 14 July 2021 to help deliver the European Green Deal.
The new law sets mandatory deployment targets for electric recharging and hydrogen refueling infrastructure, for shore-side electricity supply in maritime and inland waterway ports, and for electricity supply to stationary aircraft.
The minimum mandatory target for the hydrogen refueling infrastructure says that there will be construction of one gaseous hydrogen refueling station every 200 km along the TEN-T core network by the end of 2030.
The stations will have a daily supply capacity of one ton of hydrogen for all modes of road transport. Member States must prepare a hydrogen refueling stations deployment plan by 2027 that will satisfy the needs of hydrogen-powered road mobility.
The new legislation aims to end the worries of consumers regarding the difficulty to recharge or refuel their electric or fuel cell vehicles. It aims to reduce the emissions of the hard-to-decarbonize transportation sector which is one of the main sources of global greenhouse gas emissions and a heavy polluter in urban areas.
“The agreement will send a clear signal to citizens and other stakeholders that user-friendly recharging infrastructure and refueling stations for alternative fuels, such as hydrogen, will be installed throughout the EU. This means that more public recharging capacity will be available on the streets in urban areas as well along the motorways,” said Andreas Carlson, Swedish minister for infrastructure and housing.
Next, the political agreement that has just been reached must be formally adopted. Once the process is completed by the European Parliament and the Council, the new rules will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and enter into force after a transitional period of 6 months.
According to Hydrogen Europe – a leading organization that aims to accelerate hydrogen deployment in Europe, the agreement still does not meet industry demands but is a satisfactory starting point that also lays the foundations for the use of hydrogen in maritime, aviation and rail transport.
Hydrogen Europe also expects the regulation to be improved upon revision in 2026 and include the coverage of the comprehensive network.