Conversion to hydrogen: slowed down by EU regulations

hydrogen tank

Green hydrogen is considered the future of energy production.

(photo: dpa)

Brussels Hydrogen is considered a miracle weapon of energy transformation: it can be used wherever gas is still burned. Even coal furnaces for steel production are to be replaced by hydrogen installations in the future.

However, the European Commission now links green hydrogen production with criteria some in the economy do not understand: electricity must come from new plants and be produced at exactly the same time that hydrogen is produced. The hydrogen produced at this point can only be described as ‘green’ if the megawatt hour costs less than € 20. This is the first official draft delegated act published by the European Commission.

However, such criteria are difficult to meet, he criticizes the economy. And he warns: Under these conditions, it will be a long time before so much hydrogen is produced that entire industries will be able to switch energy sources.

For over half a year, companies have been delighted to present precise criteria. They now have until June 17 to raise objections. Parliament and EU member states can also suggest changes.

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BDI CEO Holger Loesch emphasizes that the slowdown in green hydrogen production increases the uncertainty of energy-intensive companies. “Industry absolutely needs the security of its supply when switching from gas or coal to climate-friendly fuels.”

The head of RWE, Markus Krebber, also believes that the delay is unnecessary: ​​”With the current proposal, a good plan is being slowed down by specific regulations,” he says.

The German economy in particular has high hopes for hydrogen. It’s not just about being the first to produce large amounts of green steel. It is also interested in the subsequent sale of the systems developed for this purpose worldwide. This also applies to electrolysers, which are used to produce hydrogen, and direct reduction plants, where steel is produced from this hydrogen.

>> Also read here: Wintershall is planning a major hydrogen production project in Wilhelmshaven

The sooner large amounts of hydrogen are available, the more development is fostered and the better the chances that companies will see each other later. This is how Sebastian Bolay, energy expert at DIHK sees it: “The electrolyser market could become very important around the world. If German companies stay in the lead, it will benefit the entire country and make us more independent, he says. “Right now, in the beginning, it doesn’t really matter where the hydrogen is coming from. It just needs to arrive quickly. However, the European Commission is slowing down with its legislation. Sooner or later the companies will only ask for green hydrogen. “

However, the Commission is concerned about false incentives. Because it is often forgotten that hydrogen from conventional sources is more harmful to the environment than natural gas. “Hydrogen production can encourage energy production from fossil fuels, undermining the climate benefits of hydrogen and its role in enhancing energy security in the EU,” reads the statement.

Climate protection: narrow specifications also have advantages

Matthias Buck of Agora Energiewende says: “Simply striving to produce as much hydrogen as possible based on electricity is not thinking enough. For example, the usability of the system is important:” Electrolysers will be an important factor in the power grid. They must therefore be planned and operated in such a way as to support the operation of the grid, otherwise the existing bottlenecks in the power grid will deteriorate. ‘

Overall, the definition provided by the European Commission is currently looser than some observers expected. CDU environmental politician Markus Pieper says: “The Commission has literally moved the curve away from hydrogen in the last second with a golden rim.”

>> Also read here: The EU wants to finally solve its energy problem by 2030.

An important point here is the special rule for wind, solar and hydropower plants that are already built or will start operating before 2027. Double funding is possible for them: first, their construction will be subsidized, then they will be subsidized for the hydrogen they produce. This should no longer be possible for power plants that will be connected to the grid after 2028.

In addition, Pieper calls for different rules for the use of conventional energy sources: “In the event of silence in the wind or sun, it is still too complicated to obtain backup power from the general power grid. The Commission still has to resolve this bottleneck through simplified verification procedures and acceptance of nuclear energy or gas for hydrogen production. ‘

On the other hand, Buck, a climate defender, points out that a narrow definition can also have benefits for the economy: “Only a solid definition of green hydrogen guarantees that steel produced in Germany, which is“ climate neutral ”, really does not contain greenhouse gas emissions. “Climate neutrality” is an important differentiator of future green markets.

More: Corporations and the European Commission present a declaration of intent on the development of hydrogen

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