The highly anticipated EU Net Zero Industry Act, to counter the US Inflation Reduction Act and boost the production of net zero technologies in Europe, that was announced on March 16, 2023 seeks to accelerate action through:
- Improve conditions for investment in net-zero technologies, mostly by simplifying permit-granting processes. In addition, and giving priority to the now- called Net-Zero Strategic Projects that should be reinforcing the resilience and competitiveness of the EU industry, including sites to safely store captured CO2 emissions”.
- Accelerating CO2 capture to an annual 50Mt injection capacity in strategic CO2 storage sites in the EU by 2030, with proportional contributions from EU oil and gas producers.
- Requiring public authorities to consider sustainability and resilience criteria for net-zero technologies in public procurement or auctions, to boost diversification of supply for net-zero technologies.
- Setting up Net-Zero Industry Academies, with the support and oversight by the to be established Net-Zero Europe Platform, to ensure quality jobs in these essential sectors.
- Making it possible for Member States to set up regulatory sandboxes to test innovative net-zero technologies under flexible regulatory conditions.
- Assisting the Commission and Member States by a new Net-Zero Europe Platform to coordinate action and exchange information, including around Net-Zero Industrial Partnerships, like by identifying financial needs, bottlenecks and best practices for projects across the EU, making particular use of existing net zero industrial alliances.
An important part of this communication is the outline of ideas on the on the design and functions of the European Hydrogen Bank, as announced by the Commission president in her State of the European Union on September 14, 2022. As Europe covers
30% of proposed hydrogen investments globally and first final investment decisions (FIDs) took place in 2022, the majority of
hydrogen investments in Europe is still at planning stage. For investments to be unlocked on production side, more demand visibility is needed. Hydrogen production via electrolysis is currently hardly produced at scale and is not competitive with conventional hydrogen; the International Energy Agency (IEA) indicates that 2.4 million tonnes per year of export-oriented renewable and low-carbon hydrogen projects will come online and around 10 million tonnes per year by 2030. Only 0.9 million tonnes per year are designated for export to the European Union so far. The objective of the Bank is therefore to close the investment gap and connect future supply of renewable hydrogen with our demand objective of 20 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen. The European Hydrogen Bank will facilitate both renewable hydrogen production within the EU and imports, contributing to the RepowerEU objectives and to the transition to climate-neutrality. According to the Green Deal Industrial Plan, launched on February 1, 2023 the first pilot auctions on renewable hydrogen production will be launched under the Innovation Fund in Autumn 2023.