February 13, 2023

Today the Commission adopted two Delegated Acts which, within a period of 2 to 4 months, will be examined by the European Parliament and the Council and which establish what is defined as renewable hydrogen for the EU:

  • the first defines when an energy vector can be considered RFNBO, i.e. renewable fuel of non-biological origin, ensuring that it is produced only from "additional" renewable electricity generated at the same time and in the same area as its own production;
  • the second establishes the methodology for calculating the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions obtainable thanks to the use of RFNBOs and recycled carbon-based fuels, taking into account the entire life cycle. It also stipulates that the use of recycled carbon fuels must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 70% compared to substituted fuels.

To date, RFNBOs only count towards Europe's renewable energy targets when used for transport, but the Commission has proposed that they count regardless of the sector of use.
Renewable hydrogen produced from biomass is not considered an RFNBO as it already falls under the Renewable Energy Directive as a "biomass fuel".
REPowerEU's target is the production of 10 Tg of RFNBO by 2030, equivalent to 14% of total EU electricity consumption, i.e. around 500-550 TWh of renewable electricity.
Hydrogen producers will have to demonstrate that the electricity used is renewable, both in the case of self-production and in the case of purchase from the grid. Taking into account, on the one hand, that the permitting processes and the installation of additional new renewable energy take time and, on the other hand, that by 2025 the installed capacity of electrolysers is expected to grow from the current 160 MW to 6000 MW, producers of renewable hydrogen will have the possibility to sign long-term renewable energy purchase agreements with existing plants.
Furthermore, in the transitional period, producers of renewable hydrogen will be able to operate the electrolysers at any time as long as there is a correspondence between the total quantity of renewable electricity consumed and the total quantity of renewable hydrogen produced on a monthly basis.
In order to count towards the European renewables targets, the requirements for renewable hydrogen production will also apply to third country producers wishing to export renewable hydrogen to the EU. Starting in January 2030, all renewable hydrogen producers will have to use the electricity they purchase on an hourly basis.
The proposed method for calculating life cycle greenhouse gas emissions takes into account the emissions during the entire life cycle of fuels and also clarifies how to carry out the calculation in case there is co-production with fossil fuels.
The Renewable Energy Directive does not include nuclear power, but the Commission has proposed a definition of low-carbon hydrogen, that is derived from non-renewable sources with at least 70% lower greenhouse gas emissions than fossil natural gas during the entire life cycle.

Source: European Commission