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EU hydrogen policy: Hydrogen as an energy carrier for a climate-neutral economy

12-04-2021

Hydrogen is expected to play a key role in a future climate-neutral economy, enabling emission-free transport, heating and industrial processes as well as inter-seasonal energy storage. Clean hydrogen produced with renewable electricity is a zero-emission energy carrier, but is not yet as cost-competitive as hydrogen produced from natural gas. A number of studies show that an EU energy system having a significant proportion of hydrogen and renewable gases would be more cost-effective than one relying ...

Hydrogen is expected to play a key role in a future climate-neutral economy, enabling emission-free transport, heating and industrial processes as well as inter-seasonal energy storage. Clean hydrogen produced with renewable electricity is a zero-emission energy carrier, but is not yet as cost-competitive as hydrogen produced from natural gas. A number of studies show that an EU energy system having a significant proportion of hydrogen and renewable gases would be more cost-effective than one relying on extensive electrification. Research and industrial innovation in hydrogen applications is an EU priority and receives substantial EU funding through the research framework programmes. Hydrogen projects are managed by the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU), a public-private partnership supported by the European Commission. The EU hydrogen strategy, adopted in July 2020, aims to accelerate the development of clean hydrogen. The European Clean Hydrogen Alliance, established at the same time, is a forum bringing together industry, public authorities and civil society, to coordinate investment. Almost all EU Member States recognise the important role of hydrogen in their national energy and climate plans for the 2021-2030 period. About half have explicit hydrogen-related objectives, focussed primarily on transport and industry. The Council adopted conclusions on the EU hydrogen market in December 2020, with a focus on renewable hydrogen for decarbonisation, recovery and competitiveness. In the European Parliament, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) adopted an own-initiative report on the EU hydrogen strategy in March 2021. This is an update of a Briefing from February 2021.

Climate action in Czechia: Latest state of play

18-02-2021

The EU binding climate and energy legislation for 2030 requires Member States to adopt national energy and climate plans (NECPs) covering the period 2021 to 2030. In October 2020, the European Commission published an assessment for each NECP. Czechia generates 3.5 % of the EU's total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and has reduced emissions at a slower pace than the EU average since 2005. With high levels of energy-intensive industry in the Czech economy, the country's emissions intensity is significantly ...

The EU binding climate and energy legislation for 2030 requires Member States to adopt national energy and climate plans (NECPs) covering the period 2021 to 2030. In October 2020, the European Commission published an assessment for each NECP. Czechia generates 3.5 % of the EU's total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and has reduced emissions at a slower pace than the EU average since 2005. With high levels of energy-intensive industry in the Czech economy, the country's emissions intensity is significantly higher than the EU average, though it is on a downward trend. Energy industries, manufacturing and industrial processes account for 60 % of the Czechia's total emissions. Energy industry emissions have fallen by almost 20 % since 2005, reducing this sector's share of total emissions by 8 %. The Czech economy is heavily reliant on coal and nuclear energy is seen as an essential part of the transition process. Three regions are designated coal regions within the country's RESTART transition programme. Under EU effort-sharing legislation, Czechia was allowed to increase emissions until 2020 and will seek to reduce these emissions by 14 % relative to 2005 by 2030. Czechia achieved a 15 % share of renewable energy sources in 2018. The country's 2030 target of a 22 % share are focused mainly on advanced biofuels, with some solar and wind. Energy efficiency measures centre on building stock, cogeneration and support measures for industry and households.

Climate action in Denmark: Latest state of play

18-02-2021

The EU's binding climate and energy targets for 2030 require Member States to adopt national energy and climate plans (NECPs) for the 2021-2030 period. In October 2020, the European Commission published an assessment of each NECP. Denmark submitted its NECP in December 2019. The country accounts for 1.6 % of the EU's net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Between 2005 and 2018, it achieved a net emissions reduction of 23 %, performing better than the EU as a whole. In addition, the carbon intensity ...

The EU's binding climate and energy targets for 2030 require Member States to adopt national energy and climate plans (NECPs) for the 2021-2030 period. In October 2020, the European Commission published an assessment of each NECP. Denmark submitted its NECP in December 2019. The country accounts for 1.6 % of the EU's net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Between 2005 and 2018, it achieved a net emissions reduction of 23 %, performing better than the EU as a whole. In addition, the carbon intensity of the Danish economy was below the EU average, and decreased more rapidly. In 2019, the country's emissions were concentrated in three sectors – transport, energy and agriculture – amounting to 69 % of total emissions. Developments in the energy sector were particularly notable and serve to explain two-thirds of the reduction in total emissions accomplished since 2005. Regarding emissions under the Effort-sharing Regulation, the emissions reduction target for Denmark has risen from 20 % for 2020 to 39 % by 2030 (compared to 2005). After reaching the 30 % share of renewables target well in advance of 2020, a 55 % target has been set for 2030. In 2019, the 2020 targets relating to energy efficiency had still not been met, and the level of ambition in those areas for 2030 has been revised downwards.

Climate action in Bulgaria: Latest state of play

18-02-2021

EU legislation requires Member States to adopt national energy and climate plans (NECPs) for the 2021-2030 period in order to contribute to the EU's binding climate and energy targets for 2030. Each individual final NECP has been assessed by the European Commission. The assessments were published in October 2020. Bulgaria submitted its final NECP in March 2020, taking into consideration the recommendations of the Commission on the draft report. In the1990s, Bulgaria experienced structural economic ...

EU legislation requires Member States to adopt national energy and climate plans (NECPs) for the 2021-2030 period in order to contribute to the EU's binding climate and energy targets for 2030. Each individual final NECP has been assessed by the European Commission. The assessments were published in October 2020. Bulgaria submitted its final NECP in March 2020, taking into consideration the recommendations of the Commission on the draft report. In the1990s, Bulgaria experienced structural economic changes relating to its transition to a market-based economy. In 1990, the country accounted for total emissions of 103 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent (MtCO2e) (excluding land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) and including international aviation). In 2005, its total GHG emissions decreased by 37 % compared with 1990, while in 2019 they were 44 % below the 1990 level. Bulgaria's NECP identifies several reasons for the reduction in total GHG emissions. These include: structural changes in industry, such as the decline in energy-intensive enterprises, an increased share of hydro and nuclear electricity, implementation of energy efficiency measures in the housing sector, and a shift from solid and liquid fuels to natural gas in energy consumption. However, according to the country report under the 2020 European Semester, Bulgaria is the most GHG-intensive economy in the European Union, and coal is still the main source of energy.

Research for REGI Committee-Climate Spending in EU Cohesion Policy: State of Play and Prospects

21-12-2020

With more than EUR 55 billion in planned investments, Cohesion Policy seeks to make a significant contribution to the EU´s overall climate-related spending target of 20% in the 2014-2020 period. There are concrete achievements in a number of areas such as flood and forest fire protection. However, evidence also suggests that Cohesion Policy is at risk of missing some of its targets, including on energy efficiency, renewables and greenhouse gas emissions. Cohesion policy has also continued to provide ...

With more than EUR 55 billion in planned investments, Cohesion Policy seeks to make a significant contribution to the EU´s overall climate-related spending target of 20% in the 2014-2020 period. There are concrete achievements in a number of areas such as flood and forest fire protection. However, evidence also suggests that Cohesion Policy is at risk of missing some of its targets, including on energy efficiency, renewables and greenhouse gas emissions. Cohesion policy has also continued to provide support to fossil fuels and biomass, which may hinder the EU’s long-term path to climate neutrality. Moreover, the Commission’s current approach to tracking climate-related expenditure in Cohesion Policy has shortcomings. There is a need for a transparent and meaningful methodology, with a stronger focus on performance and results, as repeatedly highlighted by Parliament. The climate spending target is set to increase to at least 30% under the EU’s next Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF) and the Recovery Instrument (Next Generation EU). In the period 2021-2027, Cohesion Policy is expected to place even more emphasis on climate and environment-related issues in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal.

The potential of hydrogen for decarbonising steel production

14-12-2020

The iron and steel industry is a major contributor to the overall anthropogenic CO2 emissions worldwide, and therefore a significant driver of climate change. This paper explores the possible options for decarbonising iron and steel production processes, focusing on the use of renewable hydrogen as an alternative to fossil coal. It explains the basic physical and chemical differences between the two alternative processes, their cost structures and potential for further cost reductions, as well as ...

The iron and steel industry is a major contributor to the overall anthropogenic CO2 emissions worldwide, and therefore a significant driver of climate change. This paper explores the possible options for decarbonising iron and steel production processes, focusing on the use of renewable hydrogen as an alternative to fossil coal. It explains the basic physical and chemical differences between the two alternative processes, their cost structures and potential for further cost reductions, as well as the larger implications and longer-term consequences of switching to hydrogen in this key industrial sector.

EU strategy for offshore renewable energy

11-12-2020

The European Commission recently adopted a strategy to develop offshore renewable energies in all of Europe's seas. This could make a major contribution towards the decarbonisation of energy consumption across the EU. The strategy aims to increase offshore wind capacity to 25 times current levels, and facilitate the commercialisation of new offshore renewable technologies, such as tidal, wave and floating solar energy. The Commission will provide a supportive regulatory framework and increase funding ...

The European Commission recently adopted a strategy to develop offshore renewable energies in all of Europe's seas. This could make a major contribution towards the decarbonisation of energy consumption across the EU. The strategy aims to increase offshore wind capacity to 25 times current levels, and facilitate the commercialisation of new offshore renewable technologies, such as tidal, wave and floating solar energy. The Commission will provide a supportive regulatory framework and increase funding for offshore renewable technologies, while looking to maintain Europe's global technological and market leadership in this sector.

EU climate target plan: Raising the level of ambition for 2030

08-12-2020

The EU's current greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for 2030, of 40 % compared with 1990 levels, was agreed by the European Council in 2014, along with targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Since 2017, the European Parliament has been urging the European Commission to develop a zero-emission long-term 2050 vision for the European Union. Following Parliament's reiteration of this demand and a similar call from the European Council, in November 2018 the Commission adopted a strategic ...

The EU's current greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for 2030, of 40 % compared with 1990 levels, was agreed by the European Council in 2014, along with targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Since 2017, the European Parliament has been urging the European Commission to develop a zero-emission long-term 2050 vision for the European Union. Following Parliament's reiteration of this demand and a similar call from the European Council, in November 2018 the Commission adopted a strategic long-term vision, aiming for climate neutrality by 2050. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has committed to this goal with the European Green Deal, proposing to set the EU 2050 climate-neutrality target in legislation by means of a European climate law. As part of the climate-neutrality commitment, the Commission is proposing to review and revise the 2030 greenhouse gas emissions target, to ensure a realistic and feasible trajectory towards 2050. On 17 September 2020, on the basis of a public consultation and an in-depth impact assessment, the Commission adopted a communication on the climate target plan. The climate target plan proposes to increase the 2030 target from a 40 % emissions reduction to a 55 % net emissions reduction, compared with 1990 levels. The communication outlines sectoral targets and approaches, as well as the regulatory revisions and new initiatives needed in the climate and energy policy framework. In the 2021 Commission work programme, the numerous revisions required are presented under the package 'Fit for 55'. The 2030 target, embedded in the future climate law, will be subject to interinstitutional negotiations, with Parliament having adopted its position of a higher 60 % emissions reduction target at its October 2020 plenary session. The European Council discussed the climate target plan at its October 2020 meeting, and will revisit it in December with a view to agreeing the 2030 target.

Sustainable aviation fuels

23-11-2020

As part of the European Green Deal adopted in December 2019, which highlights the importance of boosting development of alternative fuels, the European Commission envisages a proposal in early 2021 to support the increased production and use of sustainable aviation fuels, so as to meet Paris Agreement climate change goals. A number of policy measures are already in place to increase sustainable aviation fuel use, but production and use of these fuels in Europe remains low. Eight different pathways ...

As part of the European Green Deal adopted in December 2019, which highlights the importance of boosting development of alternative fuels, the European Commission envisages a proposal in early 2021 to support the increased production and use of sustainable aviation fuels, so as to meet Paris Agreement climate change goals. A number of policy measures are already in place to increase sustainable aviation fuel use, but production and use of these fuels in Europe remains low. Eight different pathways for producing sustainable aviation fuels that can be used without changes to aircraft or refuelling infrastructure have been authorised, but a number of technical, feedstock-related and commercial barriers exist. Development of electro-fuels, which also represent a 'drop-in' type of fuel with potential to help efforts towards carbon neutrality in aviation, is considered technically viable but would require policy action for commercial development. The Commission is conducting a public consultation and is studying a number of policy measures, including a mandatory minimum share of sustainable aviation fuels to be supplied to airlines and/or to be used by airlines and a financial and technical support mechanism to promote the production and use of these fuels.

EU-India: Cooperation on climate

17-11-2020

The EU and India are respectively the third and the fourth largest emitters of atmosphere-warming greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, India's per-capita emissions are much lower than those of other major economies. India is acutely affected by climate change and is strongly dependent on coal as a source of primary energy. Nevertheless, it is now a leader in the promotion of renewable energy and has fixed ambitious targets in terms of electricity-generation capacity from renewables. Along these lines, Delhi ...

The EU and India are respectively the third and the fourth largest emitters of atmosphere-warming greenhouse gases. Meanwhile, India's per-capita emissions are much lower than those of other major economies. India is acutely affected by climate change and is strongly dependent on coal as a source of primary energy. Nevertheless, it is now a leader in the promotion of renewable energy and has fixed ambitious targets in terms of electricity-generation capacity from renewables. Along these lines, Delhi is a major promoter of the International Solar Alliance and, alongside other partners, the founder of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure. The EU and India have assumed a leading role in fighting climate change and have been increasingly cooperating with each other in this field, at both public- and private-sector levels. They have agreed partnerships on sectoral issues such as clean energy, water and urban development. The EU is supporting several Indian projects on climate action, sustainability and clean energy. At their 15th summit, held in July 2020, the EU and India placed a strong focus on climate change and reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate for the implementation of the Paris Agreement and to engage constructively in its first global stocktaking in 2023.

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