Nuclear-derived hydrogen is green says EC

In a major boost for the hydrogen sector, the European Commission has said that some hydrogen produced in nuclear-based systems can count towards the bloc’s renewable energy goals.

The concession, viewed by many as an important win for France – a major producer of nuclear power – comes as part of a wider initiative to significantly increase the amount of renewable hydrogen both produced and used across the continent by 2030.

In the latest move, the European Commission said that upscaling the use of renewable hydrogen, ammonia and other derivatives will accelerate the decarbonisation of our energy system and greatly reduce the EU’s dependence on Russian imported fossil fuels.

The Commission has now adopted two Delegated Acts, defining what constitutes renewable hydrogen for the EU. 

The first Delegated Act defines when hydrogen, hydrogen-based fuels or other energy carriers can be considered as a renewable fuel of non-biological origin, or RFNBO. The rules are to ensure that these fuels can only be produced from ‘additional’ renewable electricity generated at the same time and in the same area as their own production.

The second Delegated Act sets the methodology to calculate greenhouse gas emissions savings from RFNBOs and recycled carbon fuels. The methodology takes into account the full lifecycle of the fuels to calculate the emissions and the associated savings. It also establishes that the greenhouse gas emissions savings from the use of recycled carbon fuels shall be at least 70%, compared to the fuels they are replacing.

The REPowerEU plan’s ambition is to produce 10 million tonnes and import 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen in the EU by 2030 – a substantial increase from the 5.6 million tonnes foreseen within the revised Renewable Energy Directive, published in July 2021.