The EU approves public funding of up to 5.2 billion euros

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The European Commission on Wednesday approved up to 5.2 billion euros in public funding for hydrogen projects, a move it said could unlock another 7 billion euros in private sector investment, CNBC reports.

The EU executive stated that the bloc’s flagship project to support research, implementation and construction of hydrogen infrastructure, called IPCEI Hy2Use, has been prepared by 13 member states that will provide public funding.

According to the commission, the IPCEI Hy2Use project will include 29 companies that will participate in 35 projects.

The Commission stated that IPCEI Hy2Use will support the construction of “large-scale electrolysis systems and transport infrastructure for the production, storage and transport of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen”.

The initiative will focus on the development of “innovative and more sustainable technologies for the integration of hydrogen into industrial processes in several sectors” such as glass, cement and steel.

“IPCEI was expected to stimulate the supply of hydrogen from renewable sources and with low carbon emissions, thus reducing the dependence on the supply of natural gas,” said the commission.

Described by the International Energy Agency as a “versatile energy carrier”, hydrogen has a wide range of applications and can be implemented in a wide range of industries.

It can be produced in several ways. One method includes electrolysis, with an electric current that splits water into oxygen and hydrogen. If the electricity used in this process comes from a renewable source, such as wind or solar, some call it “green” or “renewable” hydrogen.

Today, the vast majority of hydrogen production is based on fossil fuels. Among those who commented on Wednesday’s announcement was Margrethe Vestager, an executive vice president of the commission, which deals with competition policy. Vestager said that the investments approved within Hy2Use will allow the construction of an electrolysis capacity of approximately 3.5 gigawatts.

This would result in “a production of approximately 340,000 tons of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen per year,” she added.

The European Commission previously stated that it wants 40 GW of renewable hydrogen electrolysis systems to be installed in the EU by 2030.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed her support for hydrogen during her State of the Union address last week. In remarks translated on the commission’s website, von der Leyen said that “hydrogen can be a game-changer for Europe. We need to move our hydrogen economy from niche to scale.”

In his speech, von der Leyen also referred to the “2030 target of producing ten million tonnes of renewable hydrogen in the EU every year”. To achieve this, we need to build a hydrogen market maker to bridge the investment gap and connect future supply and demand,” she said.

For this purpose, von der Leyen from the EU also announced the establishment of a European Hydrogen Bank. It is hoped that it will be able to invest 3 billion euros to support the future hydrogen market.