The Chair of Hydrogen Europe discussed the issues at stake regarding hydrogen

Chair Hydrogen Europe
The Chair of Hydrogen Europe discussed the issues at stake regarding hydrogen

Sopna Sury was at France Hydrogène‘s annual conference on December 7. It was an opportunity to comment on the rapid expansion of the hydrogen industry in Europe.

Sopna, who is the COO of the hydrogen branch of German electricity producer RWE, speaks a little French. And it was in that language that she began her speech, before continuing in English. She declared that we were living in vibrant and intense times, particularly with the Green Deal, which sets binding targets for green hydrogen (42% by 2030, 60% by 2035). Sopna Sury spoke of “a clear signal for the industry,” but also for the fuel suppliers who will be supplying the aviation and maritime transport sectors with green hydrogen and its derivatives.

The Chair of Hydrogen Europe went on to say that the gas and hydrogen packages would soon be finalised. The other major advance concerns the deployment of infrastructure, with pipelines that will link producers to consumers. However, as Chair of the association, and as part of her activities, Ms Sury notes that projects do not always materialise in terms of final investment decisions. However, she welcomed projects that are going to come to fruition, such as ArcelorMittal in Dunkirk, with the support of the French government.

The cost of renewable energies

“So why isn’t the hydrogen industry where it should be?” asked the Chair of Hydrogen Europe. In her view, one of the answers lies in consumers’ unwillingness to pay. “Costs are going to come down, that’s for sure, but at the moment the cost of renewable energies is quite high,” she said. And while France stands out for its gigafactories, “that’s not the case everywhere in Europe.” She went on to talk about “legislation, which must provide visibility.” This involves transposing the Red III directive on renewable energies. Ms Sury also advocated a technology-neutral approach. “It’s not a question of colours, but of CO2 content,″ she stressed. And “infrastructure is the key, not just for imports but also for connecting countries at their borders.”

Local auctions in addition to the Hydrogen Bank?

With regard to the projects of common interest (PCI) selected by Europe, Sopna Sury pointed out that these were not just pipeline projects. Hydrogen storage is also part of it, and “this will be beneficial for electricity grids because it will make it possible to make the most of renewable energies.” The final point of her speech concerned financing. She obviously referred to Ursula von der Leyen’s announcements at the European Hydrogen Week about the European Hydrogen Bank. “We need to prove that it is an effective instrument, through the first actions of €800 million.” Ms Sury also recommended that national governments launch an auction system to help local projects. She believes that Europe has assets in terms of technology and collaboration. But competition from the USA and China must be taken into account.

Saying she is “optimistic,” the Chair of Hydrogen Europe went on to praise French initiatives such as the hydrogen station at Porte de Saint-Cloud, the fleet of hydrogen-powered taxis in Paris and the Normand’HY project, not forgetting Symbio’s gigafactory.

Article written by Laurent Meillaud and translated by Logan King 

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About the author

Logan King

Logan King

After an unusual career (3 years in the French army followed by a 3-year degree in Applied Foreign Languages), it was my passion for environmental issues that finally caught up with me and led me to join Seiya Consulting and H2 Today in June 2022. First as an end-of-study internship, then as Marketing & Communication Manager and translator at Hydrogen Today.

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