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Europe leads green hydrogen developments but more support is needed

Proposed green hydrogen projects are surging across the globe as governments seize opportunities afforded by post-pandemic green stimulus packages. That’s what from emerged from a research conducted by business intelligence company Rystad Energy.

Referring to green hydrogen means hydrogen electrolyser projects that are powered by renewable sources. Data show that the global pipeline of utility scale green hydrogen developments, meaning projects with capacities greater than 1 megawatt (MW), now exceeds 60 gigawatts (GW), with 87 per cent of this capacity coming from gigawatt-scale plants.

As governments establish COVID-19 recovery strategies, green hydrogen is increasingly included as a key driver, especially in Europe. The European Union has recently released its hydrogen strategy, which calls for 40 GW of hydrogen electrolyser capacity by 2030, as well as the construction of an import supply chain with an additional 40 GW of electrolyser capacity from outside Europe, including Ukraine and North Africa.

At the beginning of October, Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, spoke at the High-Level Conference on Hydrogen reminding that hydrogen has the potential to be a game-changer and Europe should be the one leading the way.

She recalled the hydrogen strategy which maps out different steps. First of all to scale-up supply and demand in parallel. Secondly, to create competitive markets and infrastructure for cross border trade of hydrogen. Finally to keep the industry in Europe through the establishment of the European Hydrogen Alliance.

“For all this, we have started to review current EU legislation,” she said. “We are looking at renewable energy, energy efficiency, trans-European networks and the internal gas market legislation to see how we can introduce a robust regulatory framework for the new developments we are expecting and encouraging.”

According to Rystad Energy, Europe and Australia dominate the global pipeline, with 11 proposed electrolyser projects with a capacity of 1 GW or more.

“Despite the growing pipeline, we forecast less than half of this capacity (30 GW) will be operational by 2035, as developers will need to lower production costs,” warned Rystad Energy’s Head of Renewables, Gero Farruggio. “Government support will be required to advance projects more quickly, particularly for those developments that will be powered by costlier offshore wind.”

Currently, the 10 GW NortH2 project, proposed by a Shell-led conglomerate in the Netherlands, is among the largest hydrogen electrolyser developments to be powered by offshore wind, along with the 600 MW Westküste 100 project in Germany which is being developed by Ørsted and EDF.

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