Europe’s top renewable energy organisations SolarPower Europe and WindEurope, supported by Breakthrough Energy, launched the Renewable Hydrogen Coalition to give voice to businesses and thought leaders that will be decisive in positioning Europe as the world leader in renewable hydrogen, produced via electrolysis and based on 100 per cent renewable electricity.
The Coalition will build a high-level and interdisciplinary network of innovators, entrepreneurs and corporate leaders from the rapidly growing renewable hydrogen community, including industrial off-takers.
“Europe is a world-leader in many renewable energy technologies, including the latest innovative applications of solar,” said Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe. “Now is a golden opportunity for Europe to develop a robust and competitive renewable hydrogen industry, so it can lead the world in this decarbonisation solution. In order to ensure that the European Commission’s ambitious climate targets are met and that all sectors are decarbonised before 2050, renewable hydrogen provides the missing link and the Renewable Hydrogen Coalition is ready to amplify Europe’s position on this technology and provide the necessary network and input.”
The launch of the Coalition follows the EU Hydrogen Strategy announced by European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, which sets the goal to produce 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen by 2030.
Renewable hydrogen is going to be a key feature of a resilient climate-neutral European energy system. Alongside renewables-based direct electrification, renewable hydrogen will be essential to ensure Europe can completely decarbonise its economy, including in aviation, shipping and other industrial sectors.
“To fully decarbonise energy in Europe we need renewable hydrogen,” added Giles Dickson, CEO of WindEurope. “And it needs to be made in Europe. WindEurope is pleased to be part of this Coalition. We want to help build a strong European renewable hydrogen industry, based on European renewables.”
Indeed, Europe could commercialise renewable hydrogen faster than current strategies suggest through value chain collaborations with end-product producers, similar to what the European Battery Alliance has done for electric vehicles. Furthermore, renewable hydrogen is a significant investment opportunity of 550-700 billion euros with an abatement potential of 450-550 megatons of CO2 (or 10 per cent of Europe’s annual emissions).
A white paper produced by Material Economics, a consultancy specialising in clean energy innovation and energy transition, shows that there is significant hidden demand in the European economy for green hydrogen, with 540 terawatts-hour (TWh) potential demand unlockable in the near term and 1200-1400 TWh in the medium-term, provided there will be sufficient cost decreases, investments and policy support. To realise this potential, Europe needs to act with speed and scale in four areas: establish lead markets (such as green fertilisers and steel), mobilise massive investments (especially in renewables as over 280 gigawatts dedicated capacity is likely needed), accelerate innovation from early-stage research through demonstration, deployment and scale-up and establish enabling policies and standards.
In addition to driving down emissions, deploying renewable hydrogen means tapping into Europe’s vast solar, wind energy and other renewable resources, therefore enhancing the continent’s energy security. In this regard, Anja Dotzenrath, CEO of RWE Renewables insisted on the role that offshore has to play.
“To help decarbonise the industry and hard to electrify sectors the European Hydrogen Strategy foresees 80-120 GW of renewables are needed by 2030 to generate renewable hydrogen,” she said. “Offshore wind can provide this additionality, but some prerequisites need to be fulfilled: offshore areas need to be auctioned and assigned fast and developers need a stable and effective support framework (carbon contract for difference). Furthermore, to incentivise hydrogen demand and supply the burden of levies and taxes on electricity need to be reduced.”