Thank you for this opportunity. It is a great pleasure for me to bring this year’s European Hydrogen Week to an end with some words from my side.

In recent times, I have presented the European hydrogen strategy to many different audiences. Most recently at the COP26 in Glasgow and at the EXPO in Dubai. The audiences have spanned different countries and stakeholders with different goals, but the one thing that is clear from all of these interactions is that “the eyes of the world are upon us”.

And that other countries are eagerly following the progress being made in Europe.

That progress is down to all of you. Without the commitment of researchers, of industry, of the financial sector and from our Member States and Parliaments, we would not have come so far in the last year and a half. So, I want to say “thank you”.

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As we have had 3 days of discussions, it’s time to reflect on what I believe we can be proud of.

When we came out with our Hydrogen Strategy in July 2020, there were quite some sceptical voices: “Too ambitious and too soon”.

Even though the strategy recognised that we were at a nascent stage, and put forward a long list of 20 action items spanning financing, research and innovation, markets and infrastructure, and international cooperation.

Despite the doubts of some, we have lots to show for it.

First, we already have 15 Member States that are using their resilience and recovery plans to support the uptake of hydrogen.

  • The total investments come to 9.3 billion euro
  • Many of these support the entire hydrogen value chain.
  • And several of the Member States are including hydrogen-related investment in their planned Projects of Common European Interest.

Second, we have put forward the most comprehensive legislative package ‘Fit for 55’ for the introduction of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen in the world. Our policy proposals cover production, transport and storage of hydrogen, as well the dispatch and use of hydrogen in end-use sector.

In a few weeks’ time, we will adopt the second part of this package: the Hydrogen and Gas Market Decarbonisation package and state aid guidelines.

More on that in a few moments. But I can already tell you that this will help to advance each area and action point from our Hydrogen Strategy.  

Third, we have created a vibrant stakeholder community under the Clean Hydrogen Alliance. With the demand targets in our “Fit for 55” package on the one hand, and with the project pipeline of the Clean Hydrogen Alliance on the other hand, we know we can deliver on our ambitions.

Fourth, on research and innovation, the launch of the Clean Hydrogen Partnership by our President shows our commitment to retain Europe’s technological advancements.

Right now, Europe is leading in electrolysis patents, with 31% of the global share. And Europe is the only continent with electrolyser producers in all major technologies.

Recently we announced four large-scale hydrogen projects under the Innovation Fund. This shows the commitment by our industry to develop some of the most advanced and large-scale demonstration projects right here in Europe.

And finally, as I mentioned in my introduction, we are presenting and discussing our policy proposals with our international partners to create a truly global hydrogen market. One that will be denominated in euros.

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All of these points paint a picture of the progress we have made and are making.

But it is important to remind ourselves that hydrogen is not an objective in itself. We want hydrogen, because we want to decarbonise our energy system.

This is why I believe that it is crucially important to keep the end-consumer of this hydrogen in mind.

Don’t think of the end-consumer as only the steel manufacturer, think of it as the clients demanding green steel as well.

Don’t think of the end-consumer only in the form of shipping companies, also think of their clients that want to reduce the carbon footprint of their products.

This is why I strongly believe that our sub targets for the uptake of renewable hydrogen in the industry and transport sector are critically important in our endeavour to create a hydrogen ecosystem.

We know that regulatory certainty leads to confidence, confidence leads to greater investment.

So our industries, many of which face investment decisions in the next decade, should be confident that switching from fossil fuels to renewable and other low-carbon hydrogen sources is an option.

That they can make investments today that set them up for a world where zero-carbon is the only currency.

And that they can do this in Europe, because we have the full suite of decarbonisation options available to meet their demands.

Similarly, our transport sector should be confident that they can replace any fuel oil tanker with a hydrogen-based transport solution. And that the hydrogen will be made available to them, including the hydrogen refuelling stations for delivery.

I understand that these will be difficult decisions. Replacing a factory that has been running for 50 years on fossil fuels with a new solution like hydrogen will require courage.

But I also believe that there is no realistic alternative. This is the time to be brave and this is the time to make these decisions. And I can firmly promise that the European Commission is by your side when you make them.

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To close, let me turn to the hydrogen and gas market decarbonisation package.

Although the package is still under discussion, I would like to shed some light on what to expect on the 14th December.

To begin, the package is not a standalone. In fact, it is the second instalment of the first part of the “Fit for 55” package we adopted in July where we promoted the production and consumption of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen.

In this package, we provide the market design for hydrogen, access to pipelines, and the conditions for hydrogen to start replacing fossil gases in a cost-effective manner.

It will also contribute to reducing the dependency on external fossil fuel suppliers and improve the resilience of the EU energy system.

Another dimension we need to consider are the current spike in energy prices: I believe that hydrogen can play an important role to reduce such price spikes in the future by helping to reduce demand and enabling large-scale storage.

Whilst the package covers all gases, there are a number of elements that are very important for hydrogen.

Firstly, the package aims to catalyse hydrogen infrastructure and market.

In the current regulatory framework:

  • the deployment of hydrogen as an independent energy carrier via dedicated hydrogen networks is not addressed.
  • There are no rules on tariff-based investments in pure hydrogen networks, or on the ownership, access and operation of dedicated hydrogen networks.
  • And no harmonized rules on pure hydrogen quality exist.

With this new proposal, we want to address each of these issues.

First, we will be setting the market design rules for the new hydrogen market.

We will draw inspiration from the market principles set out in the gas directive and regulation concerning Third Party Access, ownership unbundling and tariff setting. But, we will adapt them to the reality of a market that is still emerging and needs scaling up.  

For instance, we will take into account that today there are already some industrial hydrogen users who own both the hydrogen networks and the production facilities. This also means that to the extent that their network is confined and not connected to the grid, it makes sense that they get derogations from unbundling rules.

The establishment of market design rules will give certainty to hydrogen investors and will be a great contribution to the scaling up of the sector.    

Second, we want to create cost-effective, cross-border hydrogen infrastructure which helps integrate renewable and low-carbon gases. And this includes elements like mandatory discounts for renewable and low-carbon hydrogen on entry and exit tariffs.

Third, the package aims to foster integrated network planning.

Because we believe that hydrogen can truly contribute to the development of an integrated energy system when it is possible to switch from electricity to gas and vice-versa. 

Our proposal includes the requirement for integrated network planning allowing cost-efficient choices in the operation and construction of energy infrastructure needed for the energy transition

Finally, we want to promote consumer engagement with this new package. 

A critical element for the creation of a hydrogen market is clear definitions and trusted certification.

As you know, we have proposed a certification scheme for renewable hydrogen in the first part of the Fit for 55 package, and we have been working on a delegated act to define the precise criteria for producers that claim to produce 100% renewable hydrogen.

We are committed to bringing this delegated act forward by the end of year, and we are currently working to do that. Though we are conscious of time, we want to make sure to get this right. This includes a public consultation, which we will launch in the near future.

To complete the framework, the upcoming hydrogen and gas package coming in December will provide a definition and criteria for the production of low-carbon hydrogen. This will also be complemented by a proposal for certifications on low carbon hydrogen.

All of these individual aspects together will mean that we have all the pillars in place to start enabling a truly European and even global market for hydrogen.

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Ladies and gentlemen,

As you can see, we have accomplished much over the past 16 months when it comes to hydrogen in the EU.

But we are not done yet. I am confident that we can make good progress with co-legislators and present the final results in the next year.

However, I encourage you not to wait. If there is one thing that I have learned in the last 16 months is that we may disagree on the details, but we certainly agree on the direction.

So whilst a number or a target date might change, I am confident that Europe is on the right path, and that that path will include hydrogen.

Thank you.