What’s holding up hydrogen in Europe?

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Europe’s hydrogen economy is so close to becoming a reality. Billions in public and private dollars are lining up to invest in a wave of newly planned hydrogen facilities. EU policymakers are finalizing new regulations and subsidies. And the region’s energy crisis–sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine–has accelerated the need for alternative energy sources like hydrogen.

But an unexpected twist: The U.S. passed the Inflation Reduction Act, with subsidies for hydrogen production and far looser rules than those under consideration in Europe. Could Europe lose its hydrogen competitiveness?

In this episode, Shayle talks to Gniewomir Flis, an independent hydrogen consultant. Previously he researched hydrogen at Agora Energiewende, a decarbonization think tank, and Energy Revolution Venture, a decarbonization venture capital firm.

Gniewomir explains that some in Europe worry the U.S. might become a more attractive place to invest in hydrogen if the EU’s rules are too strict. This concern throws more complexity into an already difficult policy-making process. It’s causing EU policymakers to fight over proposed rules and investors to delay final decisions to greenlight European projects.

Gniewomir and Shayle discuss questions like:

  • What’s the evidence for the concerns about Europe’s competitiveness?
  • What counts as renewable hydrogen in the proposed EU rules? They discuss the three key criteria that could be required for subsidies: additionality, temporal correlation and geographic correlation
  • Which electrolyzer technology—proton exchange membrane (PEM), alkaline, or solid oxide—is best for which power generation technology, such as solar, gas, and wind?
  • How will the proposed rules impact developing countries’ plans to export hydrogen to Europe?
  • How do we transport hydrogen? They discuss options, such as metal hydride, ammonia, methanol and liquid (also known as cryogenic) hydrogen.
  • Will China ultimately take over electrolyzer manufacturing, like it did for solar photovoltaic manufacturing?

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