Renewable hydrogen rules established by the European Commission

The European Commission has unveiled new rules for renewable hydrogen by adopting two Delegated Acts that are necessitated under the Renewable Energy Directive.

The rules aim to illuminate what represents renewable hydrogen, ensuring renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBOs) are developed from renewable electricity. The Acts are an aspect of the EU Commission’s broad hydrogen framework, which includes energy infrastructure investment, state aid rules, and legislative renewable hydrogen targets for the industry and transport sectors.

The Acts are interrelated and are essential for the fuels to contribute to Member States’ renewable energy target. The EU has set the ambitious goal of 10 million tonnes of domestic renewable hydrogen production and 10 million tonnes of imported renewable hydrogen within the REPowerEU Plan. The proposed rules will be vital in achieving these lofty ambitions.

The Acts are to be transmitted to the European Parliament and Council, who will have two months to analyse them and accept or reject the proposals. The scrutiny period can be extended upon request by two months, but neither can amend the proposals.

How the first Delegated Act will enhance EU renewable hydrogen

This Act outlines the conditions that hydrogen, hydrogen-based fuels, and other energy carriers are considered an RFNBO, clarifying the principle of ‘additionality’ for hydrogen in the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive.

This means that hydrogen production electrolysers will need to be connected to new renewable electricity production, ensuring that renewable hydrogen generation elevates the amount of renewable energy available to the grid.

Hydrogen electricity demand is forecasted to increase with the large-scale rollout of electrolysers as we approach 2030, with estimates suggesting around 500 TWh of renewable electricity will be needed to achieve the REPowerEu Plan’s 2030 goal of ten million tonnes of RFNBOs.

© shutterstock/vanitjan

How can producers comply with the rules?

The Act outlines several ways producers can prove that the renewable electricity employed for hydrogen production is compliant with additionality rules and lists criteria that ensure renewable hydrogen production is only produced when and where sufficient renewables are available.

The rules will apply to domestic and third-party countries that want to export renewable hydrogen to the EU. A certification scheme will allow producers to demonstrate their compliance with the EU framework and trade renewable hydrogen within the Single Market.

The regulations will be phased in gradually, becoming more robust over time. For example:

  • There will be a transition phase of the requirements on “additionality” for hydrogen projects that will start operating before 1 January 2028;
  • Hydrogen producers will be permitted to match their hydrogen production with their contracted renewables on a monthly basis until 1 January 2030; and
  • Member States can choose to adopt stricter rules about temporal correlation from 1 July 2027.

The second Delegated Act  will help quantity RFNBO greenhouse gases

This Act demonstrates a methodology for calculating RFNBOs’ life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions, such as upstream emissions, emissions associated with taking electricity from the grid, from processing, and associated with transportation.

It also clarifies how to calculate renewable hydrogen greenhouse gas emissions or its derivatives in the case it is co-produced in a facility that also develops fossil-based fuels.

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