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Hydrogen ramp-up in the pipeline as Commission releases outstanding Delegated Acts

Hydrogen ramp-up in the pipeline as Commission releases outstanding Delegated Acts
Ralf Diemer, Managing Director of the eFuel Alliance (photo courtesy eFuel Alliance).

The European Commission wants to produce 10 million tonnes of hydrogen in Europe by 2030 and import the same quantity. Yet only now has the European Commission published the Delegated Acts (DA), meaning that there has been a lack of clarity on which electricity sources should be considered for the production of hydrogen and synthetic fuels and how carbon dioxide reduction should be measured. As a consequence, the industry had no investment certainty at all the eFuel Alliance points out.

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On February 13, 2023, the European Commission published the long-awaited Delegated Acts (DA) based on Articles 27 and 28 of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II). Originally, the Commission should have published these requirements by the end of 2021.

The DAs define detailed rules for the production of renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBO) and are important pillars for the ramp-up of green technologies.

Since the publication of the REDII at end of 2018, the industry has been waiting for legal clarity, investment, and planning certainty. Therefore, we welcome today’s publication of the Delegated Acts and the Commission’s ambition to finally kick-start the ramp-up of renewable hydrogen and eFuels, said Ralf Diemer, Managing Director of the eFuel Alliance.

The DAs now enter a two-month consultation period in which the European Parliament and Council must reach an agreement.

The process was at times very bureaucratic and became extremely ideologically charged. The result is a very bureaucratic act in which additionality, as well as geographical and temporal correlation of renewable electricity for the production of hydrogen, are dictated in detail. Despite the highly attractive carrot offered by the US IRA for green technologies, the Commission is holding on to the stick and pushing for bureaucratic and sometimes impractical rules. Nevertheless, it is important to note: If we take climate protection seriously, we must finally get started. For this, we need the legal certainty of the Delegated Acts, Ralf Diemer said.

The Commission defines very strict criteria in the first DA.

We criticize the fact that the Member States are left with the authority to decide whether the temporal correlation on an hourly basis should be brought forward to July 2027 or only introduced in 2030. We risk having to wait for the national implementation before we can achieve final planning certainty. Furthermore, we must ask why direct electric applications such as electric vehicles or heat pumps do not have to fulfill such criteria as additionality or temporal correlation. An immense amount of time has been lost due to this very controlled approach in the hydrogen sector, Ralf Diemer said.

Ralf Diemer also points out that the second DA makes imports of eFuels “unnecessarily difficult.”

The EU proposes that industrial CO2 sources can only be used if a comparable CO2 certificate system to the EU ETS is established, which does not exist outside the EU. This will exclude such CO2 sources for the production of synthetic fuels. Since direct air capturing is not yet technically mature enough, industrial CO2 is released unfiltered into the atmosphere instead of being captured and used. This slows down consistent climate protection and prevents the development of large-scale industrial projects in other EU countries. In order to achieve the ambitious climate targets, planning certainty and pragmatism are central pillars for further development of the industry. After massive delays, the regulatory clarity that now exists is nevertheless a cornerstone for avoiding fossil fuels in the long term, ended Ralf  Diemer.

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