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The European Commission gives the green light to state aid in the field of hydrogen

Written by Eric Apim on Thursday, September 22nd 2022 à 09:40 | Read 1455 times

The European Commission wants to stimulate the supply of clean hydrogen (photo: European Commission)
The European Commission wants to stimulate the supply of clean hydrogen (photo: European Commission)
EU. The European Commission has authorized, Wednesday 21 September 2022, the public aid proposed jointly by thirteen Member States for the second important project of common European interest (PIIEC) concerning hydrogen. Called "IPCEI Hy2Use", it aims to support research and innovation, the first industrial deployments and the construction of relevant infrastructures in the hydrogen value chain.

The thirteen countries*, including five Mediterranean countries (Spain, France, Greece, Italy and Portugal), will be able to provide a maximum of €5.2 billion in funding. This amount will leverage an additional €7 billion in private funding. Twenty-nine companies, including multinationals, SMEs and start-ups (see list below) operating in one or more Member States will benefit from this aid. They will develop thirty-five projects. 160 external collaborations are planned for their development with universities, public research organizations and other SMEs throughout Europe.

"Hydrogen can be a game changer for Europe. It has a crucial role to play in diversifying our energy sources and helping us reduce our dependence on Russian gas. We need to scale up this niche market. That's why we are creating a hydrogen bank," says Ursula von der Leyen. "We also intend to increase our financial participation in important projects of common European interest. This will help make disruptive innovation and positive spillover effects possible for the entire EU economy and help provide the energy for the economy of the future," the European Commission President continues.

"Hydrogen in Europe is still in its infancy."

The Hy2Use PIIEC will invest in the construction of hydrogen-related infrastructure (including large electrolyzers and 'transport infrastructure for the production, storage and transport of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen) and in the development of innovative and more sustainable technologies for the integration of hydrogen into industrial processes in several sectors. Especially those that are more sensitive to decarbonization, such as the steel, cement and glass sectors. "The PIIEC is expected to boost the supply of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen, thereby reducing dependence on natural gas supply," says a European Commission statement.

"Developing low-carbon hydrogen technologies, and in particular green hydrogen, and building the necessary infrastructure for its deployment will bring us closer to achieving the goal of making Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The hydrogen value chain in Europe is still in its infancy. Investing alone in such an innovative market can be risky for Member States or companies. This is where state aid has a role to play, to unlock, attract and mobilize significant private investment that would otherwise not be made," says Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president of the European Commission in charge of competition policy.

Hydrogen to produce steel, cement and chemicals

"A number of large electrolysers should be operational by 2024-2026 and many innovative technologies deployed by 2026-2027. Completion of the entire project is planned for 2036, with varying timelines depending on the projects and participating companies," the same text states. "Hydrogen is crucial for the green transition of energy-intensive industries in Europe: it allows us to produce steel, cement and chemicals without carbon and can replace large quantities of fossil fuels. European industry is a world leader in hydrogen technologies. Now is the time to deploy these technologies in European plants," said Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market.

In addition to the 13 Member States, Norway, a member of the European Economic Area, is joining the initiative and is leading two individual projects.

A first PIIEC (Hy2Tech) on the hydrogen value chain was approved on July 15, 2022 by the European Commission. It focused on end users in the mobility sector. Its successor focuses on projects not covered by Hy2Tech, namely hydrogen-related infrastructure and hydrogen applications in the industrial sector. In November 2019, the PIIEC Strategic Forum set up by the European Commission in 2018 had identified hydrogen as one of the key strategic value chains for Europe. The institution published its Hydrogen Strategy for Europe in July 2020 and launched the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance bringing together all components of the European hydrogen community (industry, civil society, public authorities).

* Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.

The companies participating in PIiEC Hy2Use

The European Commission gives the green light to state aid in the field of hydrogen

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