One big challenge is where to source the electricity needed for the water electrolysis technology used in the “Trailblazer” project, because only a hydrogen production powered by renewable energy will eventually result in a reduction of carbon emissions for the customer. In this case, the electricity for the 20-megawatt plant will be a mix between mostly wind and potentially solar power.
The other challenge lies in the competitiveness of renewable hydrogen: Currently, renewable H2 is more expensive than hydrogen, produced by steam methane reforming using natural gas. Realizing the imperative of decarbonizing its industry sector, the German government, however, idevelop instruments to help bridge the costs for the upcoming years, as Le Van explains: “These operating expense (OpEx) subsidies should compensate the higher production cost of renewable hydrogen compared to conventional hydrogen.”
On the other hand, projects promoting the transformation process are supported by the EU and national governments on the investment part. One important EU program, “Important Projects of Common European Interest” (IPCEI), supports large hydrogen production projects that contribute – as the program’s name suggests – substantially to the interests of the EU industry and economy.
The European Commission has set itself ambitious goals: With the 2030 Climate Target Plan, the Commission aims to raise the EU’s ambition on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to at least 55 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. By 2050, the European Union wants to be climate-neutral.