Why is the EU slacking on hydrogen?
The European Union is slacking on its commitment to hydrogen infrastructure. That worries Hydrogen Europe and 120 other organisations, who have signed an open letter published today, urging the EU to make progress on the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR).
First, some background. In October 2022, the European Parliament voted for ambitious targets in terms of alternative fuels. These targets include:
- One hydrogen refuelling station every 100 km on the Trans-European Network (TEN-T), a Europe-wide network of railways, roads, waterways, and other transport corridors.
- At least one 700-bar dispenser on each hydrogen refuelling station.
- One hydrogen refuelling station for liquid hydrogen every 400 km.
- At least one hydrogen refuelling station in each urban node (i.e. a TEN-T connector city).
The EP vote calls for key hydrogen refuelling infrastructure to be in place by 31 December 2027.
All that is to be codified in a new EU regulation called AFIR (Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation). But AFIR, which is being negotiated in a ‘trilogue’ between the European Parliament, the European Commission and EU member states, is taking too long, say the signatories of the open letter.
In particular, they point to articles 3, 4 and 6 of the proposal, which cover the important minimum national binding targets for deployment of both battery recharging and hydrogen refuelling stations. The signatories urge the negotiating parties to reach an agreement at their next meeting, on 27 March.
No ‘silver bullet’
Hydrogen Europe and its co-signatories point out that there is no single ‘silver bullet’ that will decarbonize European road transport. So, if Europe says it needs not just electric but also hydrogen-powered vehicles, it will also require infrastructure for both powertrain options.
“Industry is ready to scale up and roll out hydrogen fueled and battery powered vehicles and, if we want to achieve the EU’s road transport emissions reduction targets by 2030 and 2050, Member States must deploy hydrogen refueling and battery recharging infrastructure, as having both is cheaper than one,” said Darko Levicar, Director of Mobility at Hydrogen Europe.