Greece stands on the cusp of becoming a pivotal hub for the European hydrogen and fuel cell sector, but the nation faces critical challenges that demand urgent attention and strategic planning.
As geopolitical events and escalating energy prices reshape the global stage, a decisive shift towards clean energy has gained unprecedented momentum in Europe. This shift not only responds to these geopolitical challenges but underscores the pressing need for rapid decarbonization and energy independence. Simultaneously, the United States has embarked on a historic journey to combat climate change. The U.S. Inflation Reduction Act, enacted in August 2022, stands as a landmark climate legislation, allocating $369 billion for climate investments.
Undoubtedly, hydrogen plays a central role in this transformative shift. The reason is clear: Hydrogen offers nations and continents a significant opportunity, changing geopolitical energy dynamics by moving the focus from securing access to resources to creating them.
Green hydrogen, the cleanest form produced from renewable sources like solar and wind power via electrolysis, is crucial for decarbonizing various sectors, including steel, fertilizers, refineries, and transportation. Simultaneously, fuel cells—electrochemical devices that convert hydrogen and other renewable fuels into clean electricity—are already replacing polluting diesel generators in areas such as telecommunications and critical infrastructure. Looking ahead, fuel cells will play a significant role in electrifying commercial ships, trucks, and aircraft. To effectively combat climate change, it’s essential to ramp up green hydrogen production and accelerate the widespread adoption of fuel cells.
As the 28th Climate Change Conference (COP28) unfolds in Dubai, hydrogen takes center stage in global discussions. Sultan Al Jaber, the President-Designate of COP28, emphasizes the necessity of reducing both the demand for and supply of fossil fuels to combat climate change. In a letter dated October 17, 2023, he advocates for collaborative efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 22 gigatons within the next seven years.
Europe aims to achieve a total of 20 million tons of renewable hydrogen by 2030, with the goal of producing 10 million tons domestically and importing an additional 10 million tons. The Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) serve as the means to achieve its production target, fostering collaboration among European countries and industry stakeholders. These projects focus on developing and deploying hydrogen-related technologies, addressing challenges in production, storage, distribution, and utilization. While some approved projects are progressing, funding challenges hinder others, posing obstacles to Europe’s hydrogen objectives.
President Von der Leyen’s announcement of the European Hydrogen Bank in 2022 marked a significant step. This internal financing tool aims to boost private investments in hydrogen value chains and renewable energy supply with EU demand, addressing initial investment hurdles. At the European Hydrogen Week in Brussels (November 20-23, 2024), noteworthy developments unfolded. President Von der Leyen outlined plans for the €2.2 billion second European H2 Bank auction in Spring 2024. She also disclosed a collaboration with the Brazilian State of Piaui for a 10GW green hydrogen facility, part of a €2 billion investment in Brazil’s hydrogen value chain under the Global Gateway initiative. Additionally, EC Executive Vice President Maroš Šefčovič highlighted the prioritization of hydrogen in the European Commission’s climate and industrial policy, pledging to tackle sector-specific challenges. Simultaneously, European Commissioner for Climate Action, Wopke Hoekstra, initiated an €800 million auction, marking the initial phase of the European Hydrogen Bank. Europe is seriously committed to advancing the hydrogen sector, learning from past setbacks with Photovoltaics.
With its strategic location and ideal weather conditions, Greece stands on the cusp of becoming a pivotal hub for the European hydrogen and fuel cell sector. However, the nation faces critical challenges that demand urgent attention and strategic planning.
Firstly, Greece is in the minority among European member states, lacking a defined hydrogen strategy. This absence poses a significant barrier to unlocking the benefits of hydrogen technologies, necessitating immediate action to develop a comprehensive strategy aligning with European goals and capitalizing on Greece’s unique strengths. Secondly, a lack of consensus regarding the role of green hydrogen in decarbonizing key industries (steel, fertilizers, refineries) presents a substantial hurdle. Greece should actively work to cultivate a shared understanding and consensus on the potential of hydrogen across various sectors by enhancing collaboration with industry leaders, policymakers, and stakeholders. Moreover, by leveraging its extensive maritime fleet and reinforcing pipeline connections, Greece is poised to emerge as a vital player in the future of hydrogen. Capitalizing on this advantage will secure Greece’s leading position in the rapidly expanding hydrogen industry. One project aligning with Europe’s objectives for decarbonization and energy independence is Advent’s EU-approved Green HiPo IPCEI project. Green HiPo involves the development, design, and manufacture of fuel cell systems and electrolyzer systems for the production of power and green hydrogen, respectively. A new state-of-the-art facility in Kozani will be home to the production of fuel cells and electrolyzers.
In the U.S., the Inflation Reduction Act catalyzes the rapid advancement of clean energy technologies, positioning the nation as a key player in the global hydrogen market. With substantial tax incentives for green hydrogen producers, the act is set to draw significant investments and make green hydrogen competitive nationwide by 2030. In October 2023, the Biden Administration announced the winners of the US Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs, supported by a $7 billion grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). These H2Hubs are expected to produce 3 million metric tons of hydrogen annually, significantly contributing to the 2030 U.S. clean hydrogen production goal. The government’s $7 billion investment aims to trigger an additional $40 billion in private investment, generating numerous jobs and economic advantages, while also promoting the use of hydrogen.
The hydrogen revolution is reshaping Europe and the United States’ energy landscape. Yet, the enormity of the challenge requires collaboration beyond individual continents, countries, or companies. Successful transition hinges on global cooperation, innovation, and the timely implementation of H2 projects worldwide. In this collective pursuit of a sustainable future, we must work together to turn ambitious visions into tangible actions. The time to act is now.