The EU Commission wants to make it possible to classify hydrogen produced with nuclear power as “green”. The Brussels authority presented a proposal for a corresponding definition of green hydrogen on Monday. Under certain circumstances, hydrogen produced with nuclear power could therefore be considered sustainable and correspondingly eligible for funding. That could cause a dispute between Germany and France, who are divided on the nuclear issue.
According to the Commission, hydrogen should be considered "green" if it was produced using electricity from renewable energies that was only produced for this purpose. This is to avoid that electricity from renewable sources is not available for other purposes.
Another way hydrogen can be classified as “green” is if the electrolyzer used to produce hydrogen is connected to a local power grid that uses 90 percent renewable electricity. Nuclear energy is generally not counted as a renewable energy source, but the Commission's proposal foresees that only CO2 emissions can be considered in certain circumstances.
If the emissions from generating electricity for the local power grid remain below a certain limit of CO2 emissions, the hydrogen produced therein can also be considered "green", the agency said. This opens the door to nuclear power, which is largely low-carbon.
With the new guidelines, Brussels wants to create a legal framework for investors in the energy sector and for state aid. The rules should apply to producers within the EU as well as to producers based in third countries. According to the Commission, the EU wants to produce ten million tons of green hydrogen itself by 2030 and import another ten million tons.
The role of nuclear power could now again cause a dispute between Germany and France. The two countries are planning a joint hydrogen pipeline from Spain via France to Germany. The government in Paris also explicitly relies on so-called “red” hydrogen, which is produced with nuclear energy and emphasizes that it is low in emissions.
Nuclear power is "not renewable energy," said a spokesman for the Federal Ministry of Economics on Monday in Berlin about the EU Commission's plans. Germany primarily wants to use “green hydrogen”, which is produced exclusively from renewable energies. Spain also takes this position, as the Spanish Environment Ministry said on Monday.
The EU Parliament and the member states now have two months to examine the European Commission's proposal for a definition of green hydrogen. However, a large majority is required to reject it. At member state level, at least 20 countries, representing 65 percent of the EU population, would have to oppose it.
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