Europe’s Hydrogen Import Dilemma: Balancing Ambition with Reality

By February 13, 2024 2   min read  (395 words)

February 13, 2024 |

2024 02 13 09 09 23

Navigating the Challenges of Meeting Hydrogen Targets Amidst Uncertain Imports.

Europe’s ambitious hydrogen strategy is under the microscope as a new study by Transport & Environment (T&E) signals caution against the heavy reliance on uncertain hydrogen imports. The research highlights that only 1% of the planned green hydrogen production in six key exporting countries has received financing, casting shadows over Europe’s ability to fulfill its lofty hydrogen ambitions.


The EU’s RePowerEU plan, a response to geopolitical tensions, sets a bold target of 20 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen by 2030, half of which is expected to come from imports. However, the readiness of potential exporters—Norway, Chile, Egypt, Morocco, Namibia, and Oman—to scale up hydrogen production quickly and establish the necessary infrastructure is in question.

While the UK invests significantly in the hydrogen sector, aiming for leadership, its strategy may be hindered by limited applications in domestic road transport. This issue exemplifies the broader challenges facing Europe as it seeks to balance its hydrogen production and import needs within the broader context of global climate commitments.

The EU’s projected hydrogen needs, exacerbated by the crisis following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, may have been overestimated. Modeling by Agora Energiewende suggests the actual demand by 2030 could be as low as 3.5 Mt, significantly less than the targets set by RePowerEU. Moreover, the EU’s potential for domestic hydrogen production, bolstered by renewable energy, could negate the need for substantial imports, although achieving this remains a formidable challenge.

The study further scrutinizes the feasibility of hydrogen projects in the six exporting countries, revealing that the vast majority are still in preliminary stages. This raises critical concerns about the EU’s import ambitions and the practicality of relying on hydrogen derivatives for transportation due to current infrastructure limitations.

Given these complexities, Europe may need to pivot towards enhancing its domestic hydrogen production capabilities. This strategic shift could not only align more closely with realistic targets and legal mandates but also foster the EU industry, potentially generating up to two million jobs within the hydrogen supply chains by 2030.

As Europe navigates its path towards a sustainable and independent energy future, prioritizing domestic hydrogen production over uncertain imports could offer a more viable and strategic approach to achieving its hydrogen and broader environmental goals.




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