Federal Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten (Groen) is once again advocating the use of hydrogen as an energy source. On behalf of Belgium and six other member states, I argued in the informal European Council of Ministers for the development of a flexible regulatory framework. “We believe very strongly in hydrogen as a means to achieve climate goals in Europe,” she said in Ljubljana.
Van der Straiten served as a spokesperson for the Five-Way Energy Forum in the Slovenian capital. I suggested there joint position paper Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland regarding the use of hydrogen as an energy source. Last year, they already pointed out the main role that hydrogen can play.
To achieve European climate targets by 2030 and to make Europe climate neutral by mid-century, hydrogen cooperation is crucial for the seven countries involved, “due to the intense economic and industrial activity” in the region. Van der Straeten describes a stable energy supply in northwest Europe as critical to citizens and the future of industry, and thus sees a role for hydrogen.
Today, hydrogen accounts for less than 2% of the European energy mix. 96% of this hydrogen is produced by natural gas – a process that produces significant emissions of carbon dioxide – but it can also be obtained from renewable sources. In this way, hydrogen can contribute to the decarbonization of certain sectors, certainly when other alternatives turn out to be impractical or expensive, says the European Commission. You will submit a proposal by the end of this year. According to the authority, the transportation sector and energy-intensive industry can benefit from the switch to hydrogen.
In response to the commission’s upcoming proposal, Belgium and the six other European countries presented their common position on Tuesday. They are calling for a hydrogen regulatory framework that would give way to regional, national, and cross-border networks that are already being planned. This mainly includes private investors.
“We hope this statement inspires the Commission and other member states to make rapid progress in building a framework for a carbon-neutral future that makes the best possible use of hydrogen technology,” van der Straiten said. Thanks to an ambitious approach, hydrogen is no longer a distant dream, but it could become a reality. If we want renewable hydrogen to make a real contribution by 2030, we have to start now.”
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