On behalf of the European Parliament, the Industry, Research, and Energy Committee (ITRE) voted to allow hydrogen to be transported in existing gas network infrastructure and across borders in a system overseen by the natural-gas industry, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas, rather than a new body proposed by the European Commission.
The amended directive on “common rules for the internal markets in renewable and natural gases and in hydrogen” also called for the ramp-up of a European hydrogen market, citing last year’s REPowerEU plan’s 10 million tonnes of domestic green hydrogen and 10 million tonnes of imported renewable hydrogen, and set guidelines for H2 use.
This directive prohibits H2 use for heating or blending into the natural-gas network. A mix of up to 20% hydrogen can theoretically be mixed into the gas system without producing significant problems, but due to its lower energy density by volume compared to methane, this would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6-7% while boosting fossil gas prices by 43%.
Despite parliament’s disapproval, the modified directive allowed blue hydrogen from natural gas with carbon capture and storage. The European Parliament, European Commission, and 27 member states acting as the European Council must agree on EU directives, therefore legislative votes matter.
The committee also approved an altered Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) that offended environmentalists.
The agreement, which does not mention “hydrogen,” bans fossil-fuel heating systems in new and refurbished buildings by 2035 and prohibits member states from providing financial incentives for fossil-fuel boilers from 1 January 2024.
The directive also requires member states to produce 35 billion cubic metres (bcm) of “sustainable” biomethane by 2030, equal to 9% of the EU’s estimated gas demand of 395 bcm in 2023, and incorporate it into the gas network.
The modified regulation requires all new and publicly owned buildings to be zero-emission by 2028 and 2026, respectively, while residential structures undergoing major renovation have until 2032, with few exclusions.