(Reuters) – Six European Union countries, including Germany, France and the Netherlands, have called for EU legislation and increased funding to support hydrogen, a low-carbon technology in line for cash from the bloc’s coronavirus recovery fund.
The European Commission has pledged to use its proposed 750 billion euro recovery fund to support clean hydrogen – a fuel that can be produced using renewable power and which can replace fossil fuels in polluting industrial processes.
The energy ministers of Germany, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg on Monday said this funding must be backed by legislation.
In a joint declaration, they called on the Commission to “present a timely action plan followed by legislative proposals to enable a flexible, fit-for-purpose regulatory approach and to stimulate a liquid market for hydrogen in the coming years.”
EU energy ministers are meeting on Monday to discuss the Commission’s recovery fund proposal, which member states will debate on Friday.
The countries called for EU hydrogen production targets for 2030 and a labeling system to incentivize use of “clean” versions of the fuel.
The EU consumes around 8 million tonnes of hydrogen each year, most of which is produced from fossil gas, rather than renewable power.
“In sectors like industry and transport, it is the missing link in the energy transition. To make this happen we need to scale up and reduce the cost of clean hydrogen,” Dutch economy and energy minister Eric Wiebes said.
The Commission should also assess how EU gas infrastructure can be repurposed to carry hydrogen, including through reforms to the bloc’s energy infrastructure legislation, the countries said.
The Commission plans to publish an EU hydrogen plan later this month.
Germany and the Netherlands have already announced national strategies. Germany last week pledged 9 billion euros from its coronavirus economic recovery package to scale up production of clean hydrogen fuel.
Reporting by Kate Abnett; editing by David Evans