The Belgian House Committee adopted a hydrogen law last February that is set to become the first law of its kind in the world, according to the Energy Minister, Tinne Van der Straeten. The new law will regulate hydrogen transport networks and set up a network operator to ensure the quality of hydrogen and provide free access to the transport network.
The law’s adaptations are minor and do not compromise the original purpose or general approach of the legislation. However, the adaptation of the transitional period for existing hydrogen networks will remove the December 31, 2030 deadline, with a plan to create a temporary transitional period through legislation at a later stage. This is contingent upon the transposition of the European “Hydrogen and Decarbonized Gas Market Package” (or “gas package”).
The hydrogen law also includes the introduction of a legal basis for potential subsidies to the hydrogen transport operator, as well as the designation of the hydrogen transmission system operator for a renewable period of 20 years, similar to the designation frameworks for Elia and Fluxys.
Belgium currently has 600 kilometres of hydrogen pipelines. The new law aims to foster the development of hydrogen as a clean energy source, support a secure and sustainable energy system, and provide a competitive market for clean hydrogen. The hydrogen law also includes safety requirements for hydrogen transport and storage.
The establishment of the hydrogen transport network operator is expected by the end of 2022, paving the way for the development of a hydrogen infrastructure that could contribute significantly to decarbonization efforts in Belgium and beyond.
However, there are potential challenges and controversies surrounding the development of hydrogen as an energy source, such as the high cost of producing hydrogen and the limited availability of green hydrogen. Additionally, the transportation and storage of hydrogen pose safety risks that must be mitigated through proper regulation and technology.
Overall, the hydrogen law represents a significant step forward for Belgium and the global clean energy transition, providing a regulatory framework for the development of a clean hydrogen economy and laying the foundation for a more sustainable and secure energy future.