MEPs allow gas and coal to produce “green” hydrogen

Extensive operation of greenwashing or necessary development of the sector? On Wednesday, MEPs eased the rules for hydrogen certification “green”, this energy vector is considered essential for decarbonizing industry and mobility. dn the structure of a recast of the directive on renewable energy, cthey did adopt, by three votes, a controversial amendment Posted by German Markus Pieper (CDU).

But the new text would increase electricity production generated from coal or fossil gas, instead of allowing Europe to phase out hydrocarbons. ” Parliament has gone a little too far in opening the floodgates and removing safeguards “, we are still slipping into France Hydrogène, which brings together players in the French sector.

Cannibalization of electricity production

In fact, the change in question makes it possible to label hydrogen “renewable” (or “green”) even if it is produced from electricity from coal or gas in an electrolyser (which splits of water to hydrogen through an electric current) . The condition: to guarantee that an equivalent number of renewable source electrons is purchased ” in the same country or in a neighboring country in the last three months. In other words, until at least 2030, electrolysis operators will not have to worry about the supply/demand balance at time T, or about the physical intermittency of wind or solar energy, or the actual state of the connection, and it’s done. to get the kilowatt-hours they need from the network without interruption.

“Let’s imagine that we are at the end of November, the time of peak electricity consumption. If I get electricity produced from gas or coal [puisque les sources renouvelables ne suffisent pas à satisfaire la demande cette période, Ndlr] to generate hydrogen, so I can prove that it is “green” because I will buy somewhere in Andalusia, for example, an equivalent production made in September, on a sunny day, when the consumption is low and renewables are running at full capacity,” a stakeholder explained to La Tribune.

However, this process promises to increase the demand, where the supply must always adjust: new methods of production must be called on the network, that is, in peak periods. , gas or coal-fired power stations may not operate without this additional stress. What, in addition, drag prices and exacerbate the risk of cuts during the supply crisis.

At the same time, the hydrogen generated will be labeled “green”, and will be able to satisfy the mandatory quotas also voted on Wednesday by MEPs: in 2030, 50% of the hydrogen used in industry must be renewable, then 70% by 2035.

Industry lobbying

However, until then, the conditions laid down are strict. According to a delegated act of the European Commission, hydrogen should only be classified as “sustainable” if it can be shown that it is “balanced” by renewable sources produced at the same time, and in the same mild area such as an electrolyser. .

If not, Smelters must prove that they obtain their electricity from renewable installations that are not supported by the state. The goal: that they only call on the grid when electricity is plentiful and prices are low, so that no electrons needed for other applications are taken from the electricity market. For the rest of the time, these operators must rely on their own production equipment, ie new solar or wind farm directly connected to the electrolyser – even if it is not working due to weather conditions.

But here it is: because hydrogen production becomes less expensive if the electricity supply continues, the industry is putting itself in the battle to break these locks. Over the course of three years, the mandated work was repeatedly pushed back under pressure from the industry. In the face of these obstacles, the Commission also proposed to mitigate them, by admitting that the equivalent amount of renewable energy could have been produced in the same month, before going to the time of 2030 “, we explained at France Hydrogène.

However, this is not enough. A few days ago, the Director General of Hydrogen Europe, Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, sent a letter to the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to reject the rules ” disproportionate “.

[Celles-ci] will make European renewable hydrogen insufficient for industrial needs and not competitive vis-à-vis [son homologue] not european “, he wrote in particular.

Before warning about the risks of leaks in the American market, while the United States decided to give a historic tax credit of 3 dollars per kg to hydrogen, whether it is of renewable origin or not.

Begin trialogues

So Hydrogen Europe will win its case in Parliament. ” This is a historic day […] Creating a simple framework are strong signals from the EU institutions to ensure the rise of a hydrogen economy “, reaction after Jorgo Chatzimarkakis.

However, the text is not yet finished: the trialogue phase has begun, where the Commission, the Council and the Parliament must meet to negotiate the version that will be approved in a few months. A balance must be found between the delegated action and the change adopted by the MEPs. In other words, don’t put too many constraints on the project leaders, but also don’t leave the door open in any part of the electricity source. “, argues Philippe Boucly, president of France Hydrogène.

It remains to be seen whether the executive in Brussels and the member states will demand the return of stricter rules, despite the urgent demands of the sector.

Parliament has lifted rules on imported hydrogen, despite the risk of unfair competition

The text voted on Wednesday by the European Parliament led to a major inconsistency: although they prevailed on the strict rules defined by the Commission on renewable hydrogen, MEPs were not able to agree on the requirements to be met. famous molecule.

In fact, the subject is dealt with by two different changes: Num. 13, put forward by Markus Pieper, which defines a more flexible framework for domestic hydrogen, and No. 14, which outlines this same framework but for hydrogen imports. ” The left voted against both and the right for both. But in the end, n°13 was adopted and n°14 was rejected by a few votes. “, specified Maxime Sagot, responsible for institutional relations at France Hydrogène.

So, while the rules are being relaxed for hydrogen production in Europe, they are just disappearing for imports! ” The paradoxical and illogical result is that the conservative majority relaxes the EU production rules, and the progressive majority removes these new rules for imports. », explained Maxime Sagot. Germany has reason to rejoice, because its hopes are focused on the future import of low-cost hydrogen … The fact remains that the Commission and the Council must correct the situation during the trilogues. ” We will be completely adamant about having equal conditions for all », The president of France Hydrogène, Philippe Boucly, warned for his part.