As the war in Ukraine creates an unprecedented energy crisis in Europe, this is an expected speech. During her speech of the state of the European Union to the MEPs gathered in Strasbourg on Wednesday 14 September, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen specifically announced that the European Union (EU) will establish a public bank dedicated to the development of hydrogen energy, which will be able to invest 3 billion euros “to build the future market” this energy.
“We have to move from the niche market to the mass market. (…) We want to produce ten million tonnes of renewable hydrogen in the EU every year by 2030,” he argued. This requires the “filling the investment gap”added M.ME Von der Leyen, who assured that this public bank will also contribute to “guaranteed purchase of hydrogen”.
Strategic sector for the decarbonization of the economy
The President of the European Commission thus devoted a large part of his speech to the issue, also to ensure that the EU participates “deep reform” in the European electricity market to cope with rising energy prices.
In an attempt to deal with this crisis, the institution has already presented, in May, its plan “RePower EU” provide for an acceleration of renewable energy within the EU to free itself as soon as possible from imports of Russian gas, in direct reaction to the invasion of Ukraine.
In July, the European executive approved a research and development project in favor of hydrogen, a strategic sector for the decarbonization of the economy, by federating 41 initiatives involving 35 companies ( large groups, SMEs or start-ups), supported by 15 Member States. , including Germany, Spain, France, Italy and Poland.
In this context, Brussels has authorized public funding of up to 5.4 billion euros, estimating that this state aid should make it possible to mobilize 8.8 billion additional private investments and create 20,000 jobs in all over Europe.
Hydrogen should play an important role in making the industry able to produce steel, cement or chemicals and pharmaceuticals without CO emissions.2. For this, it must be green, ie the result of an electrolysis of the water molecule (H2Or).
Thus it could replace coal in industry and make it possible to store intermittent renewable energy, solar or wind, through fuel cells. Heavy transportation (trains, ships, road vehicles, etc.) can also use hydrogen to replace their fossil fuels.
“Unshakable unity” in Ukraine
During her speech, Ursula von der Leyen also reiterated the EU’s unwavering support for Ukraine. “European unity with Ukraine will remain unshakable”reiterated the President of the Commission in the eighth month of the conflict, insisting that EU sanctions against Russia are not about to be lifted.
Dressed in Ukrainian colors as a sign of European unity with Ukraine, Ursula von der Leyen honored the wife of the Ukrainian President, Olena Zelenska, guest of honor in this speech and who was praised by MEPs.
“Dear Olena, it takes a lot of courage to stand up to Putin’s brutality. You found that courage”launched the leader, announcing that he will leave Kyiv at the end of the parliamentary debate after his speech to discuss “in detail” of continued European assistance with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“I stand here before you with the conviction that, thanks to our courage and our unity, Putin will fail and Europe will win”added the President of the European Commission, who spoke successively in English, French and German.
Tapping into the super profits of energy companies
Ursula von der Leyen also proposed a cap on extraordinary profits – so-called “superprofits” – of electricity producers based on renewable energy and nuclear that could potentially be raised. “more than 140 billion euros” for EU states, to distribute it to vulnerable households and businesses. The twenty-seven European energy ministers must, for their part, meet again on September 30 to decide on the emergency plan proposed by the European Commission.
During his speech, Mr.ME Von der Leyen also promised that the EU will contain “strategic reserve” to avoid disruption in the supply of raw materials “criticism” for its industry (lithium, rare earth). Finally, he assured that the EU will double its firefighting capacities next year by purchasing ten light amphibious aircraft and three additional helicopters.
The State of the Union address should allow the Commission – not elected but with the initiative of European laws – to report its results and present its projects to European parliamentarians.
This is the third time Ursula von der Leyen has taken part in this exercise inspired by American politics, in a very different context from 2021, where she is further strengthened by the united management of the health crisis. A two-hour debate with MEPs is scheduled after his speech.