What’s holding up hydrogen in Europe?

Could the region lose its competitive edge as hydrogen ramps up in other parts of the world?

On the Catalyst with Shayle Kann podcast this week:

Europe’s hydrogen economy is so close to becoming a reality. Billions in public and private funding have been invested in a wave of planned hydrogen facilities. EU policymakers are finalizing new regulations and subsidies. And the region’s energy crisis — sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — has accelerated the need for alternative energy sources such as hydrogen.

But there’s been an unexpected twist: The U.S. passed the Inflation Reduction Act, with subsidies for hydrogen production and far looser rules than those under consideration in Europe. Could the continent lose its competitive advantage on hydrogen?

In this episode, Shayle talks to Gniewomir Flis, an independent hydrogen consultant. Previously, he researched hydrogen at Agora Energiewende, a decarbonization think tank in Germany, and Energy Revolution Ventures, a decarbonization venture capital firm.

Gniewomir explains that some in Europe worry the U.S. might become a more attractive place to invest in hydrogen if the EU’s rules are too strict. This concern layers even more complexity onto an already-fraught policymaking process. It’s causing EU policymakers to fight over proposed rules and prompting investors to delay final decisions to greenlight European projects.

Gniewomir and Shayle discuss questions including:

  • Why are concerns about Europe’s competitiveness on hydrogen bubbling to the surface?

  • What counts as renewable hydrogen under the proposed EU rules? They discuss the three key criteria that could be required for subsidies: additionality, temporal correlation and geographic correlation.

  • Which electrolyzer technology — proton exchange membrane, alkaline or solid oxide — is the best match for various power sources, such as solar, gas and wind?

  • How will the proposed rules impact developing countries’ plans to export hydrogen to Europe?

  • What is the best way to transport hydrogen? Current contenders include transforming it into metal hydride, ammonia, methanol or liquid (also known as cryogenic) hydrogen.

  • Will China ultimately take over electrolyzer manufacturing as it did for solar photovoltaic manufacturing?

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Catalyst is a co-production of Post Script Media and Canary Media.

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