Minister Kurtyka, ladies and gentlemen, greetings from Brussels.  

Even though I can’t be with you in real-time, I’m very happy to speak at today’s hydrogen conference.

When it comes to hydrogen, we are not just looking at a new energy carrier. We are looking at the beginnings of a revolution in our energy system. And I see Europe leading that revolution.

We have a perfect alignment of conditions for a new hydrogen market.

With the European Green Deal we have a clear sense of direction.

For energy, that means we are firmly set on targets for transforming our system.

  • One decade to reach a 55% reduction in emissions by 2030. 
  • One generation to reach a carbon neutral Europe by 2050.

Meanwhile, we are finding our way out of the COVID-19 crisis. And with the Recovery Plan and the new Multiannual Financial Framework for Europe, the highest ever EU budget, we have an historic opportunity for green investment.

Not just to rebuild our economy, but to leap forward at a speed that we never imagined possible.   

And when it comes to the clean hydrogen race, Europe is speeding up.

Partly because the EU is an industrial leader in electrolyser development. But also because of the demand we are already seeing for hydrogen-based applications in sectors which are difficult to decarbonise.

These three aspects are what I mean by a perfect alignment of conditions. We have the political, the financial and the market conditions in alignment to become the global powerhouse of hydrogen.

The opportunity is there for the taking.

***

This is why we brought forward our EU Strategy for Hydrogen last July. And with it, the Clean Hydrogen Alliance.

The Strategy lays out our vision for:

  • quickly scaling up renewable hydrogen production;
  • driving down the cost;
  • and boosting demand in hard-to-abate sectors.

And that vision comes with a set of ambitious targets:

6 GW of electrolysers installed by 2024, and 40 GW by 2030.

By pushing to reach these targets, and by reaching the hydrogen economy that we imagine, we will benefit our economies.

Our analysis shows that every billion of investment in renewable hydrogen will create roughly 10,000 jobs along the supply chain.

***

The potential is as present in central and eastern region as it is for the rest of Europe.

Your region is home to the third largest consumer of hydrogen in Europe: Poland. And other countries like Romania, Lithuania, Hungary and Czech Republic - and others - are not far behind.

Already we are seeing significant fossil-based hydrogen consumption in the region, for example in the chemical industry and the production of fertilisers.

A starting point could be to replace this with clean hydrogen.

Some countries have already seen this potential and are running with it:

  • Bulgaria has announced a plan to develop a national roadmap for Hydrogen.
  • I know that Slovakia has established a Centre for Hydrogen Technologies.
  • And Croatia is preparing a National Program for Hydrogen Market Development.

In my own region – the Baltic – I’m excited about what we can make of this opportunity.

I know how strong the wind can blow. And that high potential for onshore and offshore wind is a unique asset for renewable hydrogen production.

Hydrogen is not just an energy carrier, or a decarbonised alternative.

It can integrate various renewable sources. And it is a symbol for greater flexibility.

It can help store renewable energy. That way we can better manage our overall energy system.

In particular, renewable hydrogen in the Baltic could mean a lot for the transport sector when temperatures make the use of electric batteries more challenging.

Already we are seeing hydrogen buses in Riga. And there are promising projects on the horizon for hydrogen applications in the maritime sector, and even in aviation.

***

So it’s clear: the opportunities are there for Central and Eastern Europe.

So on our side, the European Commission will pave the way for the best policy and regulatory environment possible.

I’ve already mentioned our strategy. We are building on that momentum with a number of new actions, beginning with the revised TEN-E regulation proposal tabled last December.

We propose hydrogen pipelines and electrolysers to be included in the TEN-E scope. Discussion on the proposal has already started in the Council and the European Parliament.

In June we will bring forward the Fit for 55 Package. It will include a comprehensive certification method and guarantees of origin for renewable and low-carbon hydrogen. Not to mention, the incentives to increase the share of renewable and clean energy sources in all sectors.

By the end of this year we will launch proposals to revise the rules in order to create functioning markets for hydrogen and decarbonised gases. This means that we will propose a revision of the internal gas market legislation so that it can facilitate the uptake of decarbonised gases like biogas or renewable hydrogen, also from local production.

***

Ladies and gentlemen,

As I said, with hydrogen, what I see is not just an energy carrier. What I see are the beginnings of a revolution in our energy system.

I’m looking forward to help build this new hydrogen economy in Central and Eastern Europe.

Thank you. And I wish you an excellent conference today.