European Parliament clings to false solutions in Hydrogen Strategy vote
Committee MEPs are set to approve a report laden with risks to the EU’s renewable energy transition on Monday 22 March. They want to see so-called “low-carbon hydrogen” – which is produced with climate-destroying fossil fuels – eligible for public funding and policy support. The MEPs, who sit on the EU Parliament’s Industry and Energy Committee, professed their support for low-carbon hydrogen as “a bridging technology in the short and medium term” in a preliminary vote on a non-legislative ‘own initiative’ report. This came despite acknowledgements elsewhere in the report that hydrogen made from renewable electricity is the only form of hydrogen compatible with the EU’s climate neutrality goals.
Imke Lübbeke, head of climate and energy at WWF European Policy Office said, “The European Parliament had an opportunity to deliver a vision for the efficient, strategic development of hydrogen, but they squandered it. Rather than improving on the Commission’s Hydrogen Strategy by calling for public funds to be dedicated to renewable hydrogen only, MEPs focussed their discussions on technologies and policies that will hinder Europe’s move to climate neutrality.”
Positively, several proposals that would have weakened the report even further were rejected. Attempts to bring fossil fuels into the renewable energy legislation, under the guise of low-carbon hydrogen, did not receive majority support. What’s more, and despite strong industry lobbying to the contrary, the report takes a cautious approach to the blending of hydrogen into fossil gas pipelines, saying that its relevance needs to be carefully assessed. The principle of additionality (that hydrogen production should come from renewable energy capacity extra to that which is needed for electricity grid decarbonisation, or from renewable electricity which would otherwise be curtailed) remains in the report, albeit not explicitly.
“The regressive themes of the Parliament’s discussion reflect the worrying trend to promote hydrogen in all forms, for all uses, without considering what other more efficient options exist and whether a particular application of hydrogen makes sense in the broader context of energy system decarbonisation,” said Adrien Assous, Delegated Director of Sandbag.
The parliament debate on low-carbon hydrogen, and whether it should receive public funds, mirrored ongoing discussions between Member States and in fora such as the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance. As the different forms of hydrogen have very different technology and investment needs, support for fossil-based hydrogen takes resources away from renewables-based hydrogen and other more efficient decarbonisation solutions.
“Far more positive is the MEPs’ call to the Commission to deliver a clear map of each sector’s hydrogen demand. It is also pleasing to see their recognition that hydrogen is a solution for certain sectors only – such as some energy intensive industries like steel and basic chemicals.” stated Lübbeke.
The final version of the report, which now considers low-carbon hydrogen as a bridging technology eligible for public support, will be voted on Monday, and will face the scrutiny of the entire Parliament in a plenary vote scheduled for late April.
For more information please contact: Ciara Barry, EU Climate Policy Campaigner, Sandbag, firstname.lastname@example.org, +32 486 94 97 17
Sarah Azau, Communications Manager, WWF European Policy Office, email@example.com, Tel: +32 473 573 137
 Low-carbon hydrogen can refer to either fossil-based hydrogen with CCS or hydrogen produced with electricity from a grid that is yet to be fully decarbonised (including grids with a high share of nuclear power).
 Today (18 March) MEPs in the ITRE Committee voted on Compromise Amendments on the Hydrogen Strategy INI. With the Compromise Amendments now approved, the report will likely be approved in full by the Committee on Monday 22nd.