European Hydrogen Week: Key Highlights and Strategic Announcements

European Hydrogen Week: Key Highlights and Strategic Announcements

At this year’s European Hydrogen Week in Brussels, over 5,000 visitors participated, and throughout the week, all significant aspects related to the hydrogen economy were addressed. One of the major announcements was the EU’s €2 billion support for the state of Piaui in Brazil. This funding will be used to build a 10 GW hydrogen and ammonia production unit, and its output will be transported to Europe via the Krk Island in Croatia. While this signals a positive development for launching the hydrogen economy, the investment also appears to reflect growing concerns about European green energy prices and delays in project completion. However, it cannot be ruled out that the investment serves a broader strategic goal of strengthening cooperation between Brazil and the European Union.

EU’s Global Gateway Strategy and Hydrogen Backbone Project

The European Union’s “The Global Gateway” investment strategy was also discussed during the week. This strategy directs up to €300 billion in investments globally until 2027 to promote sustainable economic growth and resilience.

The European Hydrogen Backbone project’s new report, “Implementation roadmap – Cross border projects and cost update,” was presented during Hydrogen Week, focusing on the hydrogen backbone network. The report highlighted 40 projects with a total length of 31,500 km expected to be completed by 2030. It was noted that the anticipated costs have increased due to inflation. However, the panel pointed out that hydrogen storage issues have not been sufficiently addressed. While pipelines act as a form of storage, it is crucial to start preparing suitable caverns and other storage options. The notion that there is a lack of strategic storage resonated, and it remains unclear who should bear the costs of the backbone network – the EU, the EU, and its member states, but it is evident that the current support from the EU has been insufficient.

Emphasizing Cross-Border Cooperation and Hydrogen in Industry

Commissioner Kadri Simson emphasized the need for cross-border cooperation and support for cross-border projects in her address. She stressed the importance of gaining clarity and specificity on many hydrogen projects and how significant infrastructure development for the hydrogen economy is progressing in Europe and globally. Faster progress with sector-specific regulations, crucial for setting the direction for the private sector, can be expected. A separate session was dedicated to cross-border projects. Harbors continue to play a significant role in launching the hydrogen economy and regional cooperation. The importance of the maritime sector in decarbonizing the economy should be considered.

The use of hydrogen as a heating solution in buildings was also discussed, but it was found that even if the technology is available, the cost of hydrogen currently needs to be lowered for immediate adoption. However, hydrogen usage as a heating solution in industries is deemed feasible.

Addressing the Challenges in Advancing the Hydrogen Economy

The main challenges in activating the hydrogen economy are the high price, lack of demand, and insufficient funding decisions. The newly introduced measure of the Hydrogen Bank could provide a solution to the emerging situation.

Written by: Sven Parkel, Estonian Hydrogen Cluster