When the Hydrogen Council was launched in Davos, four years ago, it was the first global initiative of its kind. You understood that hydrogen should have a central place in the transition to climate-neutrality. And you called on policy-makers to do their part. You were ahead of the times.
Today the crucial role of hydrogen is widely recognised, including by the European Green Deal, which we launched just over a year ago.
Clean hydrogen is a perfect means towards our goal of climate neutrality. It can power heavy industries, propel our cars, trucks and planes, store seasonal energy, heat up our homes. All of this with almost zero emissions.
Clean hydrogen demonstrates that we can reconcile our economy with the health of our planet. And this is precisely the spirit of the European Green Deal.
Our Hydrogen strategy makes hydrogen a key asset for the European Green Deal. The focus in the Strategy is on clean hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources. Low-carbon hydrogen can be part of the transition, but only renewable hydrogen will bring us to climate neutrality.
We also want to make clean hydrogen the best choice in economic terms. The good news is: with enough commitment, we can reach the tipping point, where clean hydrogen becomes more competitive than its alternatives. With the right investment and the right policies, clean hydrogen can go mainstream.
And this will create new markets for Europe, new economies of scale, new business opportunities. We aim at an annual production capacity for renewable hydrogen of one million tons by 2024 and 10 million tons by 2030. It is an ambitious yet realistic goal.
We can achieve it if we join forces – public and private sector, all together.
Today I would like to tell you what the European Union is doing in concrete. Let me focus on four practical actions.
First, we have set clear targets for cutting our emissions, and made them legally binding. We want to cut our emissions by at least 55% by 2030, on the way to climate neutrality by 2050. This is something YOU have been asking for for years:
Clear, credible and certain targets, to give industry the predictability you need to plan your investment.
Second, we are investing in clean hydrogen like never before. Our recovery plan, called NextGenerationEU, is worth 750 billion euros. Over one third of this will finance the goals set in the European Green Deal, including on clean hydrogen. For instance, we want to create Hydrogen Valleys and Hydrogen Islands: We want to have hydrogen produced where it is most economical. And then build strong distribution grids to transport it where it is needed. A true European clean hydrogen market. With hydrogen priced in euros. So we have asked Member States to identify the right places for this. Places where clean hydrogen creates growth and jobs in full respect of the environment.
Third, we are changing the rules of the game to facilitate the deployment of clean hydrogen. We are well aware of the regulatory obstacles you face in your daily work. European energy regulations were written at a time when hydrogen was less part of the picture. So we are changing them. For instance, last month we proposed a revised regulation for the Trans-European Networks for Energy.
With it, we will facilitate a quick integration of hydrogen in our energy system of the future.
And fourth, we have created a new alliance with the private sector. Our success will depend entirely on cooperation with companies like yours.
This is why we have launched the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance. And I am glad that over one thousand companies have already joined it.
Let me invite those of you who are based in the EU to also join and endorse its objectives.
Through the Alliance, we want to look at the entire hydrogen value chain – from production to distribution, from seasonal storage to refuelling stations, from heavy industries to all areas of mobility. Together we can synchronise investments in all these sectors, bringing together demand and supply at European and even international scale.
We can activate a self-feeding circle – that cuts production costs, while boosting demand. And in this way we can reach our goals, starting with the production of one million tons of renewable hydrogen by 2024.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Your contribution will be crucial. You hold the key to a successful transition to clean hydrogen. Because the final investment decisions are for the private sector to take. And these decisions need to be taken, right now.
We MUST achieve climate neutrality by 2050. There will be no extra time, no second chance. There are four billion tons of CO2 that still separate us from our goal. Four billion tons of CO2 that we still produce every year, here in the European Union. To get rid of them, we need bold decisions.
We need to fully de-carbonise hydrogen production.
We need out-of-the-box solutions to transform how we produce, how we heat and how we travel.
I know that many of you have already embarked in this transformation. Thanks to you, hydrogen aircrafts, clean steel and hydrogen trucks are not science fiction any longer. You made this a reality!
In the coming years, we will need all your ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit. On my side, I can assure you that Europe is serious about clean hydrogen. Clean hydrogen – is part of our future.
And you will find in the European Uniona reliable partner and an ally on the path towards climate neutrality. 2050 is not that far away. But the future has already begun. We need your leadership and support.
Thank you very much.
Source: “Check against delivery” Speech by President von der Leyen to the Hydrogen Council (europa.eu)
Photo Credit : https://pixabay.com/photos/hydrogen-seal-mechanical-industrial-2261067/