Planes and long-distance ships – not cars – should be lead markets for the development of hydrogen fuel in the EU, the European Commission has said. Its hydrogen strategy, launched today, rightly commits to scaling up clean, renewables-based hydrogen for sectors which have no alternatives to decarbonise, green group Transport & Environment (T&E) said. But support for fossil-gas based hydrogen offers a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry and should be dropped.
The Commission is planning to propose new fuels legislation for the maritime and aviation sectors by the end of 2020, but it currently seems more focused on biofuels. The hydrogen strategy means this has to change, T&E said.
William Todts, executive director at T&E, said: “This is the right plan at the right time. Hydrogen is the missing link in Europe’s strategy to decarbonise planes and ships where electrification is not an option. Now the EU needs to create laws that force airlines and shipping companies to start using zero-emission fuels including hydrogen, ammonia and synthetic kerosene.”
T&E also welcomed the focus on zero-emissions trucking in the strategy, where the Commission rightly identifies hydrogen and electrification as key technologies to achieve clean road freight. Now the Commission must implement this by setting more stringent 2030 truck CO2 standards to drive the uptake of hydrogen and battery electric trucks and buses.
However, while the strategy talks up the promotion of renewable hydrogen, it leaves the door open to supporting so-called ‘blue’ hydrogen, which is produced from fossil gas and is not clean. T&E welcomes the Commission’s plan to develop a certification system for renewable hydrogen to make sure it’s based on additional, renewable electricity.
William Todts said: “Hydrogen is only as clean as the energy used to produce it, and relying on fossil gas just delays the decarbonisation of the economy which the EU has committed to.”
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