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Cities and regions support an ambitious EU hydrogen strategy to reach climate-neutrality  

​​Members call for massive investments, tailored incentives, a clear roadmap and targets to drive green hydrogen production and consumption

The European Committee of the Regions has adopted the opinion 'Towards a Roadmap for Clean Hydrogen – the contribution of local and regional authorities to a climate-neutral Europe'. The rapporteur is Birgit Honé (DE/PES), Minister for Federal and European Affairs and Regional Development of Lower Saxony. The opinion sets out a wide range of specific legislative and non-legislative measures for the development of a green hydrogen economy as a crucial building block of decarbonisation, in particular in the industry and certain transport sectors. Hydrogen currently accounts for less than 1% of Europe’s energy consumption and most of it is not produced through renewable energy sources. 

The European Green Deal must be a key element of the post COVID-19 recovery and green hydrogen a priority energy source to achieve climate neutrality. This was the key message following the debate on the clean hydrogen opinion, led by Birgit Honé (DE/PES), Minister for Federal and European Affairs and Regional Development of Lower Saxony.

Rapporteur Birgit Honé said: "Green hydrogen creates great opportunities for climate protection, value creation and employment in many European regions. We need more action at the EU level to accelerate the development of a hydrogen market. This is why we are calling for a European hydrogen strategy with a roadmap of dedicated measures. We are therefore very happy that the European Commission meanwhile has announced that it will adopt such a strategy in the coming days."

The CoR strongly urges the European Commission to support the development and implementation of regional strategies and programmes for green hydrogen value chains and clusters, including an integrated roadmap of non-legislative and legislative measures for building an EU single market for green hydrogen and ambitious targets to drive production capacity. The opinion underlines the role of cities and regions as drivers of research and investment in this technology and calls for support of hydrogen projects at the regional regional.  

The EU's assembly of local and regional leaders has put forward the following economic and fiscal measures to boost green hydrogen. On the production side, members call for investment grants, feed-in premiums and guaranteed revenues. To foster demand, the CoR suggests binding blending quotas (e.g. for air and maritime transport fuels), GHG reduction quotas for fuel suppliers and CO2 thresholds for fleets (e.g. for lorries, coaches or inland shipping). Moreover, the CoR recommends considering Carbon Contracts for Difference (CCfDs) as a support measure.

Members request increased funding for green hydrogen projects both at research and at market roll-out level, notably from the Innovation and Modernisation Funds financed by the EU-ETS, the InvestEU programme, the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds), including Interreg and within the COVID-19 recovery Plan. The CoR calls for the European Investment Bank to provide considerable support for green hydrogen. Members agreed that a sustainability classification and mandatory certification for green hydrogen and e-fuels is needed in order to ensure the market uptake of green hydrogen.

Within the New Industrial Strategy for Europe, the CoR urges the Commission to promote lead markets for green hydrogen technologies and systems, especially in the steel, cement and chemical industries for which green hydrogen is a key option to achieve decarbonisation.

The EU's assembly of cities and regions encourages the European Commission to create the legal framework for important projects of common European interest (IPCEIs) for green hydrogen and calls on Member States to use it for large-scale demonstration projects.

Members call for the development of an EU-wide hydrogen transmission system as a prerequisite for an impactful green hydrogen economy, and ask to revise the Regulation on trans-European energy infrastructure (TEN-E) and the EU Gas Directive accordingly.

The CoR urges the Commission to prioritise the use of green hydrogen and e-fuels to complement electric mobility in heavy-goods, public, waterborne and air transport as part of its announced strategy for sustainable and smart mobility.

Local and regional leaders support a revision of the Energy Taxation Directive to align energy taxation with the goals of the European Green Deal and calls on Member States to lower the tax burden on low-carbon electricity.

Members equally request a revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) as to raise the EU target for the share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption, as they consider the dynamic expansion of renewable energy in electricity generation as the basis for the development of the green hydrogen market in the EU.

Cities and regions recommend EU Member States to promote a green hydrogen economy when updating their national energy and climate plans (NECPs) in 2023 and to work closely with local and regional authorities (LRAs) to deploy green hydrogen production.

The CoR calls for improving the financial endowment for the successor of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU) so it can support more demonstration projects and cooperation with the European Hydrogen Valleys Partnership, a dedicated European association that includes over 30 regions in 13 European countries.

The opinion was adopted alongside a high-level debate on the European Green Deal, the EU's growth strategy to reach climate-neutrality by 2050. On 15 June, the CoR launched the working group 'Green Deal Going Local'. Composed of 13 local and regional elected representatives, it aims at converting the Green Deal into concrete projects and direct funding for cities and regions to deliver the sustainable transition on the ground.

Background:

Click here to read a recent interview with Minister Birgit Honé on the way forward for hydrogen.

Green hydrogen is hydrogen obtained through the electrolysis of water using electricity from renewable energy sources

Hydrogen currently accounts for less than 1% of Europe's energy consumption (European Commission).

Contact:
David Crous
david.crous@cor.europa.eu
+32 (0) 470 88 10 37