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EU adopts Energy System Integration and Hydrogen Strategies

9 July 2020

The European Union adopted strategies for Energy System Integration and Hydrogen, which aim to make the EU climate-neutral by 2050. To achieve that goal, Europe needs to transform its energy system, which accounts for 75% of the EU’s GHG emissions, said the European Commission. The two strategies present a “new clean energy investment agenda, in line with the Commission’s Next Generation EU recovery package and the European Green Deal”.

Energy System Integration. There are three main components to this strategy:

  1. A more ‘circular’ energy system, with energy efficiency at its core. The strategy will identify concrete actions to apply the ‘energy efficiency first’ principle in practice and to use local energy sources more effectively in buildings or communities. There is significant potential in the reuse of waste heat from industrial sites, data centres, or other sources, and energy produced from bio-waste or in wastewater treatment plants.
  2. A greater direct electrification of end-use sectors. As the power sector has the highest share of renewables, electricity should be increasingly used where possible: for example for heat pumps in buildings, electric vehicles in transport or electric furnaces in certain industries. A network of one million electric vehicle charging points is to be developed, along with the expansion of solar and wind power.
  3. For those sectors where electrification is difficult, the strategy promotes clean fuels, including renewable hydrogen and sustainable biofuels and biogas. The Commission will propose a new classification and certification system for renewable and low-carbon fuels.

The strategy sets out 38 actions to create a more integrated energy system. These include the revision of existing legislation, financial support, research and deployment of new technologies and digital tools, guidance to member states on fiscal measures and phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies, market governance reform and infrastructure planning, and improved information to consumers.

Hydrogen Strategy. Hydrogen is seen as the fuel that could support decarbonisation of the EU economy. It can power sectors that are not suitable for electrification and provide storage to balance variable renewable energy flows, but this can only be achieved with coordinated action between the public and private sector, at EU level, said the Commission. The priority is to develop renewable hydrogen, produced using mainly wind and solar energy. However, in the short and medium term other forms of low-carbon hydrogen are needed to rapidly reduce emissions and support the development of a viable market.

This gradual transition will require a phased approach:

To help deliver on this Strategy, the Commission launched the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance with industry leaders, civil society, national and regional ministers and the European Investment Bank. The Alliance will build up an “investment pipeline” for scaled-up production and will support demand for clean hydrogen in the EU.

To target support at the cleanest available technologies, the Commission will work to introduce common standards, terminology and certification, based on life-cycle carbon emissions, anchored in existing climate and energy legislation. The Commission sais it will propose policy and regulatory measures to create investor certainty, facilitate the uptake of hydrogen, promote the necessary infrastructure and logistical networks, adapt infrastructure planning tools, and support investments, in particular through the Next Generation EU recovery plan.

Source: European Commission