The EC opens the door to “green” hydrogen obtained from nuclear energy

The European Commission published rules on Monday that could allow some of the hydrogen produced in nuclear power systems to meet the EU’s renewable energy targets. Hydrogen is at the heart of Europe’s plans to decarbonise heavy industry, and the rules aim to incentivize investors and industries to switch from hydrogen produced from fossil fuels to hydrogen produced from renewable electricity instead.

However, the question of what the European Union will consider “renewable energy” has fueled a dispute in recent months between France, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia, Hungary and Czechia and countries such as Germany, which believe nuclear fuels should not be included.

After months of delay amid lobbying from various European capitals, Brussels has now identified three types of hydrogen that will count towards the EU’s renewable targets.

These include hydrogen from production facilities directly connected to a new renewable electricity generator and those receiving power from the grid if the local power area has averaged more than 90 percent share of renewable energy in the past year.

Facilities can also take power from the grid in regions that meet a low carbon dioxide (CO2) emission limit, potentially based on nuclear power, as long as the generator also signs a long-term power purchase agreement with a renewable electricity supplier in their region.

Requiring producers to either directly use newly installed renewable energy or sign a long-term agreement to purchase power from new local renewable energy projects is intended to stop hydrogen producers from siphoning off existing renewable electricity capacity, which could risk increasing fossil fuel production to meet overall energy demand, Reuters notes.

EU countries and lawmakers have two months to object to the rules or they will come into effect, the agency said.

The dispute between the countries over nuclear-based hydrogen has already delayed negotiations on new EU renewable energy targets, due to resume on Tuesday.

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