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The European Commission has unveiled a strategy to scale up green hydrogen projects across all polluting sectors, from chemicals to steel, and pursue clean fuels and energy efficiency to meet the European Union's net zero emissions target by 2050.
European industry and refineries already use around eight million tonnes of hydrogen each year, but most of it is “gray” hydrogen, a version made from natural gas in a process that produces emissions that warm the planet.
The Reuters news agency reports that the EU's priority is to develop “green” hydrogen and deploy it largely in sectors that are difficult to decarbonize or where electrification is difficult or impossible from 2030 to 2050.
However, he recognized the need for a gradual approach where a "blue hydrogen" midway house will play a role.
From 2020 to 2024, hydrogen electrolyser installations of at least six gigawatts of renewable energy would be installed in the EU, producing up to one million tonnes of renewable hydrogen.
In the second phase, at least 40 gigawatts of renewable hydrogen electrolyzers would be installed and up to 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen would be produced in the EU, from 2025 to 2030.
Cumulative investments in renewable hydrogen in Europe could reach between € 180 billion and € 470 billion by 2050, and between € 3 billion and € 18 billion for low-carbon fossil-based hydrogen, the bloc executive said.
"In addition to being an alternative fuel and energy carrier, hydrogen can become an important low-carbon building block for production processes in the chemical industry," said Marco Mensik, CEO of the chemical industry association Cefic.
The EU also said that energy efficiency will be a priority, along with increased use of electricity where possible and the promotion of clean fuels, including renewable hydrogen and sustainable biofuels and biogas.
A new classification and certification system for renewable and low carbon fuels will be introduced.
The strategy did not contain any legislative proposals that the EC said would come next year.