A new era is dawing for climate policies and actions towards ‘net-zero’ emissions and to decarbonization of the socio-economic system! It is now the momentum of development of low-carbon hydrogen, which is expected to be the key to decarbonisation and especially for the decarbonization of the energy sector and transportation sector (which are responsible for the majority of the GHG emissions, globally).
EU is taking the lead in the development of hydrogen infrastructure and general of the use of hydrogen as the main path to decarbonization. To this end, last year the EU published the European Hydrogen Strategy (https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/hydrogen_strategy.pdf), for a climate neutral Europe, in combination to the European Energy Sector Integration Strategy (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=COM:2020:299:FIN), which is strongly related to the decarbonization process.
But the hydrogen pathway is not without any challenges…
Several issues must be solved or at least, immediate, actions to be taken, so as to safeguarde the transition to climate neutrality based on hydrogen. First, it is very important policy makers to prioritize the development of green hydrogen production and transportation. Of course, blue hydrogen can support the transition to decarbonization, but it cannot support a climate neutral socio-economic system.
Some of the challenges that the development of green hydrogen is facing are:
- Gaps in regulative / permitting framework: In most countries, hydrogen is a new ‘fuel’, thus spatial, environmental and health & safety (HS) regulative gaps to be identified and new legislative acts to come in force.
- HS challenges: How mature is the HS legislation of handing, storing, construction and operation of hydrogen facilities?
- Environmental challenges: Although hydrogen is considered to have an exceptionally low footprint, potential environmental constraints (i.e., water availability, biodiversity, development of new networks etc.) need to be identified and solutions to be provided.
- Taxonomy Regulation challenges: Hydrogen project must be compatible to the the ‘Do No Significant Principle’.
- Social challenges: A great discussion on the socio-economic changes by the decarbonization has already started. Furthermore, a non-exclusive stakeholder engagement of the public and of the stakeholders on the hydrogen development in relation to decarbonization must take place.
- Technical barriers (i.e. electrolyzers, RES to be used etc.).
Do we have the answers? Maybe for some of the constraints, yes. For others, maybe not. But in any case, we hope this Conference to show the direction to the solutions!
Thomas Kollias, Environmental & Social Consultant for Energy Projects- Ecomed
Ioannis Aspirtakis, Mechanical Engineer, MSc, PhDc – ErgoProlipsis, General Manager
Vasilia Alexopoulou, Environmental Consultant, Alexopoulos and Parnters