Thursday, July 18, 2024

Renewable hydrogen: what are the benefits for the EU? | Topics | European Parliament

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Is hydrogen a renewable energy?

There are various types of hydrogen, categorised by production process and the resulting GHG emissions. Clean hydrogen (“renewable hydrogen” or “green hydrogen”) is produced by the electrolysis of water using electricity from renewable sources and emits no greenhouse gases during its production.

MEPs insisted on the importance of a classification of the different types of hydrogen and want a uniform EU-wide terminology to make a clear distinction between renewable and low-carbon hydrogen. They also wanted the Commission and EU countries to stimulate the production and use of the fuel from renewable sources.

Currently, hydrogen plays only a minor role in the overall energy supply. There are challenges in terms of cost-competitiveness, scale of production, infrastructure needs and perceived safety. However, hydrogen is expected to enable emission-free transport, heating and industrial processes as well as inter-seasonal energy storage in the future.

What are the benefits of hydrogen?

Hydrogen represents about 2% of the EU’s energy mix. Nearly all hydrogen – 95% –  is produced by fossil fuels, which release 70-100 million tonnes of CO2 every year.

According to research, renewable energies could supply a substantial part of the European energy mix in 2050, of which hydrogen could account for up to 20%,   notably 20-50% of energy demand in transport and 5-20% in industry.

A renewable hydrogen economy could significantly reduce the impact of global warming compared to a fossil fuel economy.

It is mostly used as feedstock in industrial processes, but also as a fuel for space rockets.

Given its properties, hydrogen can be a good fuel because:

  • Its use for energy purposes does not cause greenhouse gas emissions (water is the only by-product of the process)
  • It can be used to produce other gases, as well as liquid fuels
  • Existing infrastructure (gas transport and gas storage) can be repurposed for hydrogen
  • It has a higher energy density than batteries so can be used for long-distance and heavy-goods transport

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