As part of the European Industrial Strategy aimed at maintaining the EU industrial leadership, on 8th July 2020 the European Commission unveiled the plan for a European Clean Hydrogen Alliance (ECHA).
Amidst concerns of undue industry influence in the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance, Bellona Europa was one of the first NGOs to sign up and be confirmed as a member earlier this year. Working on climate action in industry, it was clear for us the need to be an active participant within this new platform, to foster the debate over different production methods, feasibility and scale of such production deployment shifting the focus on sustainability of such .
Over 300 stakeholders across Europe have applied to take part in this European Commission’s initiative and in the first week of January 2021, the functioning of the ECHA alliance has been revealed, dividing participants in 6 CEO roundtables. Bellona Europa is therefore happy to share its appointment to the CEO Roundtable – responsible for the Alliance’s operational work – on Hydrogen Production. The Roundtable on Hydrogen Production will focus its efforts on “electrolysers, solar/wind/hydro, plant engineering, equipment, materials, CCS and pyrolysis” – and Bellona Europa sees it as vital to ensure that sustainability criteria for hydrogen in instituted and forms the scientific basis of these discussions.
Bellona Europa’s position on sustainability criteria is based on the simple and intuitive assumption that for hydrogen to reduce emissions and be sustainable, it needs to be low-carbon. With our “Position Paper for a Clean Hydrogen Alliance: Hydrogen From Electricity – Setting Sustainability Standards” (July 2020) we have outlined the need to assess the realistic scale of an European hydrogen network as well as highlighting that its climate impact depends as well on its own climate footprint and production. In another resources developed, Climate Solution for Industry, we aimed at identifying, comparing and evaluating the different methodology currently in use to produce hydrogen, rather than just assuming they are low-carbon.
It is our priority to keep the Alliance on the right track, enabling a clean powered future. The roundtables, six in total, will be in charge of building an investment pipeline of large scale projects and the investment agenda in their area. Our technical knowledge in estimating different technological solutions and projects’ emission reduction potential, and climate impact potential, will be of great value to this work. We are also happy to acknowledge that following initial skepticism, several NGO stakeholders have joined the Alliance to alleviate the overrepresentation of industry. Whilst Bellona Europa shared those initial concerns , membership, access and cooperation will be key to ensure that the Alliance delivers on its aim to create a full clean hydrogen value chain in Europe. Bellona Europa will also work towards ensuring that this imbalance in representation does not translate or carry-over into policy priorities and decisions.
With the work stream of the Alliance expected to kick off early February, Bellona Europa will seek to find areas of common understanding, building bridges between stakeholders to facilitate the pathway to climate neutrality by 2050. We need to get climate solution on the ground and scaled up at high speed to stop run away climate change. For industrial decarbonisation, Hydrogen is a part of the solution, but an intense focus must remain on expanding renewable grids to allow for direct electrification, reducing fossil use immediatly and deploying CO2 transport and storage where required.