The potential of hydrogen energy to transform Europe’s energy landscape has become one of the most exciting areas of EU energy policy over the past year.
Hydrogen, which can be produced from electricity or gas, is expected to play a central role in the European Commission’s upcoming gas decarbonisation package, expected in 2020 or 2021.
The particular appeal is that Europe is leading in developing the technology which could be used in existing gas infrastructure. It can go hand-in-hand with increasing the share of electricity in Europe’s energy system, by allowing storage of excess renewable electricity production.
Much of the attention has focused on so-called “green hydrogen” produced from the electrolysis of wind and solar power. But the quantities of green hydrogen remain small at the moment, with most production today coming from natural gas steam methane reforming, or “grey hydrogen”.
However, there is also concern that policymakers may be getting carried away with all the hydrogen enthusiasm.
“Hydrogen will play a huge role, but hydrogen on its own is not the silver bullet that will solve the problem,” Timmermans cautioned.
“If we are savvy with our technology, a combination of fossil and hydrogen could be used in the grid,” Timmermans said, referring to blending of hydrogen with fossil gas. “Because as I said there is not one silver bullet. Fossil fuels will also be part of the mix; we have to be realistic about that”.
As the new European Commission of Ursula von der Leyen prepares to take office, one of its key priorities will be to deliver on a new market design for gas that will have EU decarbonisation objectives at its core. And natural gas of fossil origin will play a significant part, officials say.
Source: Euractiv (http://bit.ly/2Y2ygP2)
Picture: Storage tanks and a wind turbine are seen at the first Hydrogen hybrid power plant that was inaugurated in Wittenhofe, near Prenzlau, Germany, on 25 October 2011. [EPA/BERND SETTNIK]