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European Hydrogen Backbone

image credit: EHB
Charley Rattan's picture
World Hydrogen Leader Charley Rattan Associates

UK based offshore wind & hydrogen corporate advisor and trainer; Faculty member World Hydrogen Leaders. Delivering global hydrogen and offshore wind corporate investment advice, business...

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  • Apr 5, 2022
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To achieve the EC’s ambitious Fit for 55 and REPowerEU goals, and to foster an accelerated development of the European Hydrogen Backbone as shown, this paper presents the following levers to facilitate implementation of infrastructure projects.

The EHB recommends introducing in the REPowerEU plan the establishment of import corridors, including all infrastructure requirements, as a political objective. Establish a more integrated energy system planning of hydrogen, natural gas, and electricity infrastructure at Member State level.

Lead times for largescale transmission, storage, and port infrastructure implementation – including development, engineering studies, and construction – can take up to 10 years. Integrated infrastructure planning must start today in order to send the right market signals, seize the upcoming investment windows, and have concrete infrastructure projects in place by 2030 and 2035. Promote efficient measures to facilitate the swift development of a dedicated hydrogen infrastructure by fostering repurposing of existing natural gas infrastructure Regulatory provisions should incentivise rapid roll-out of hydrogen infrastructure – pipeline, storage, and port – including investment in assets that can be repurposed before 2030.

Simplify and shorten planning and permitting procedures for renewable energy and hydrogen projects. Red tape is a major hurdle to the deployment of renewables and hydrogen projects across Europe. Governments and the EU can support project deployment by introducing frameworks for rapid mapping, assessment, and allocation of suitable land for infrastructure projects; and by defining maximum processing times for environmental, permitting, and planning applications. Unlock financing to fast-track hydrogen infrastructure deployment.

Flexible economic models to incentivise investment in hydrogen infrastructure during the volatile market ramp-up years should be explored. On a national level, countries can subsidise upfront capital investments to mitigate utilisation risk during the early years when volumes are scaling up. The EU can also incentivise private project financing and make funding mechanisms such as the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) and Horizon Europe funds, available to project developers and promoters. Encourage international cooperation and create intra and extra-EU energy and hydrogen partnerships.

In order to maintain the quality of hydrogen, the EU must create EU-wide accepted standards, regulations and certifications for the production and consumption of hydrogen. It must also enforce these standards on the imports of hydrogen. Member States can explore symbiotic energy and hydrogen partnerships with future exporting countries, either through EU programmes such as Strategic Partnerships for the Implementation of the Paris Agreement (SPIPA), or bilaterally, such as Germany has done with multiple countries from Morocco to the UAE in order to stimulate trade, energy imports, and technology exports.

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