Europe's energy transition is well under way with fuel cells and hydrogen making a great contribution
Established in 2015, the European Energy Union sets out the basis for the European Commission's ‘Energy’ policy package, aiming to ensure that Europe has secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy. With five dimensions at the core of its strategy, the Energy Union acts as a driver to boost European policies and the R&D agenda to tackle current challenges in an integrated way. Fuel cells and hydrogen-based technologies and energy solutions play a crucial role within this agenda. In parallel, the FCH JU’s mission to accelerate market entry of these technologies finds a major raison d'être at the heart of this integrated energy landscape.
But what concrete progress has been made and where is the energy transition going?
On 1 February 2017, the European Commission published the "Second Report on the State of the Energy Union", looking at the progress made since the publication of the first State of the Energy Union.
Reports, such as that recently published, are central to monitoring the implementation of this key priority of the Juncker Commission.
Energy Storage at the center of EU's plans for Energy Union
Hydrogen as storage solution
Energy storage is key in supporting EU plans for the Energy Union by helping to ensure energy security, a well-functioning internal market and bringing more carbon-cutting renewables to the market. Hydrogen, as an energy vector, can be stored and transported across borders to power numerous applications. Hydrogen's stable chemistry allows it to hold energy longer than any other medium. Producing hydrogen from renewable energies and storing it enables the so-called ‘grid-balancing’ system, which addresses the intermittent character of renewable sources. The FCH JU is backing important developments in the field of ‘green’ hydrogen production and is increasingly stimulating the sector by pooling resources and accelerating developments in hydrogen.See latest FCH JU developments in this field here
What the latest EU documents say about energy storage and hydrogen
On the back of the ‘Second Report on the State of the Energy Union', the European Commission "Staff Working Document (SWD) on Energy storage" outlines the role of energy storage in relation to electricity, presents the advantages of different technologies and innovative solutions in different contexts, and discusses further possible policy approaches. It has been acknowledged that energy storage, including hydrogen-storage-based solutions, has yet to develop its full potential in the energy markets. Developing affordable and integrated energy-storage solutions is highlighted as a priority to both facilitate and enable the transition to a low-carbon energy system based largely on renewables.
The FCH JU is helping to develop the full potential of green technologies
The FCH JU is supporting research and demonstration projects in all of the hydrogen-related areas identified in the SWD. This covers hydrogen-production routes, including green hydrogen production with renewables and associated storage and distribution paths; stationary applications, mainly for combined heat and power generation in residential and industrial applications; and transportation and related refuelling infrastructure.
This underlines Europe’s continued confidence and support for fuel cells and hydrogen as key technologies for decarbonising our energy system, whilst creating a secure and sustainable energy supply capable of generating new jobs and placing Europe at the forefront of fuel cells and hydrogen technologies worldwide.
In addition, the FCH JU is taking the lead in helping industry to further exploit the opportunities for the blending of EU funds. It works with other EU funding instruments to further increase the opportunity for securing funds to higher-risk investments in the future. This approach can be quite successful as exemplified by the ongoing deployment of 139 FC buses in nine EU cities and of construction and upgrade of 18 hydrogen refuelling stations: all thanks to the combined funding provided by the FCH JU via the Horizon 2020 programme of the EU and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). Read more here.
All these developments certainly add another stepping stone in making fuel cells and hydrogen an everyday reality.