Legislative framework can accelerate creation of European hydrogen infrastructure


A European-wide legislative framework for hydrogen will provide clarity to the value chain and set the direction for the future development of the market, a report has set out.

On 24 June, Gas for Climate published Priorities for the EU hydrogen legislation, setting out how the upcoming legislative framework for hydrogen – expected from the European Commission before the end of 2021 – can help to accelerate the creation of a dedicated hydrogen pipeline infrastructure across Europe. It made a series of recommendations for key items to included within this framework, including recognition of the role of the infrastructure operator in the development of the renewable and low carbon gas market.

It should also introduce harmonised definitions and set European-wide standards for hydrogen standards and hydrogen grid injection. This would include setting uniform gas quality standards; creating a clear definition of hydrogen as a gas that can be transported and used in a similar way as natural gas; ensuring compatibility of future dedicated hydrogen networks across Member States; and implementing infrastructure planning rules to incorporate and encourage sector coupling.

It further recommended the framework should enable cross-border trade of renewable and low carbon hydrogen; offer clarity on a gradual regulatory framework on third-party access and a level of unbundling; offer clarity on the financing of dedicated hydrogen infrastructure; include exemptions for hydrogen valleys and private networks; and ensure coherence with the EU’s overall direction for the Energy Transition.

This initial framework should come without over regulation, enabling participation from first movers and enhancing market activity. This would also provide clear context for investments in infrastructure. Longer term, however, Gas for Climate said it expects there to be a similar level of regulation at EU level as there currently is for natural gas infrastructure, if a European hydrogen backbone is to be fully developed.