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Today (9th of February), the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) adopted its position on a regulation and a directive that will ensure access to the grid for renewable and low-carbon gases like hydrogen, as well as investment in hydrogen projects.
In what is a substantial improvement on the European Commission proposal, the hydrogen and decarbonised gas package as presented by the ITRE committee provides an improved approach to unbundling with simplified rules for operators to repurpose existing transmission and distribution pipelines for hydrogen and calls for a timelier conclusion on the definition and methodology for assessing greenhouse gas (GHG) emission savings from low-carbon fuels.
Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, CEO of Hydrogen Europe, said: “The position adopted today by ITRE members is a big step towards the establishment of hydrogen as a traded commodity and as a crucial energy carrier in the campaign for net zero. It is now up to the Council to develop its general approach in line with the ambition of MEPs and industry, and to shore up all remaining issues in this important legislative package.”
While ITRE’s adopted position is certainly encouraging, a few outstanding issues remain. Policymakers should be cautious when imposing excessive conditions on hydrogen pipelines without considering the different usages of hydrogen transported and their specificities, which may hamper the development of a viable renewable hydrogen market.
Hydrogen Europe calls on policymakers to ensure appropriate exemptions for existing hydrogen networks; ensure independence on the governance of hydrogen infrastructure planning and network codes and provide flexibility for Member States in applying third party access for storage and terminals.
The ITRE committee also voted today on the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). The European Parliament is moving in the right direction by allowing hydrogen-based heating solutions to contribute to the monumental task of decarbonising buildings.
The ‘zero-emission buildings’ definition under the EPBD includes renewable hydrogen generated nearby, off-site, and transported via grids, while the definition of ‘energy from renewable sources’ is now aligned with other legislative files, such as REDIII.