Hydrogen has finally entered the halls of power: Last September, the gas, as well as storage, was a key topic at the meeting of the EU countries’ energy ministers in Linz. Austria, which, at the time, held the presidency of the EU Council, had put the creation of a Hydrogen Initiative on the agenda, inviting all ministers to sign a joint statement called the Hydrogen Declaration. Thomas Bareiß, who works at the German economy-slash-energy ministry and attended the meeting on behalf of his government, put his signature on the document as well.
The declaration states that the ministers had gathered in Linz with the aim of maximizing “the great potentials of sustainable hydrogen technology for the decarbonization of multiple sectors,” as well as the energy system, and ensure long-term energy security in the EU. The 12-page document also underlines the large “potential of renewable hydrogen as an energy storage solution, as well as a sustainable climate-neutral energy carrier and feedstock.” The green gas was capable of guaranteeing “reliable and timely access to renewable energy, thus offering new opportunities to increase energy security and reduce the Energy Union’s dependency on fossil imports.”
One objective was to create synergies by promoting “regional and multilateral cooperation regarding the exchange of technological expertise, data, results and best practices.” Later on, the declaration states that to make use of the gas to provide “efficient, safe and clean energy for all users throughout Europe, research and innovation in the field of hydrogen technology must be further intensified.”
When Austria’s minister for energy, Elisabeth Köstinger, of the ÖVP party, spoke before 250 experts at the High Level Conference in Linz, she said that “the hydrogen declaration has been an important pledge by all member states to invest in the technology and work together to advance it further. That 25 countries, and the European Commission, have signed the document is, quite honestly, more than we had hoped for.” The UK, Denmark and Norway did not participate, although five European regions, such as Heide in Germany, as well as 85 public and private organizations, did.
Köstinger then remarked that “hydrogen can be one of those important and sustainable technologies for both engines and storage. Above all, it is a very good addition to all-electric vehicles.”
“We support the Hydrogen Initiative. […] Green hydrogen offers great opportunities for decarburizing Europe’s economy. The European Commission is very pleased with the founding of the initiative, especially because it is promoting innovation across the continent.”
Miguel Arias Cañete, the EU’s commissioner for climate protection and energy
“The Hydrogen Initiative is the first project where we see an outline of a European Hydrogen Strategy. We fully support the commitment all members have made to developing hydrogen as a net-zero energy carrier that will play a key role in transforming Europe’s energy market. Acknowledging its contribution toward climate-neutral manufacturing and transportation and its promise for long-term storage are big steps forward.”
Thomas Hüwener, vice president of DVGW’s gas division