The European Commission has this week put forward a proposal for a major recovery plan, including a €750bn recovery instrument, to help Europe back onto its feet following the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been welcomed by The Federation of European Tank Storage Associations (FETSA).
One of the major points in the plan is aimed at kickstarting a clean hydrogen economy as part of funding for the European Green Deal, and FETSA Executive Director Ravi Bhatiani said that the association has recommendations and information available for policymakers in its Climate Neutrality Vision. This will allow it to ‘contribute to the debate accordingly.’
Bhatiani says: ‘The EU economic recovery plan is unprecedented in scope, and puts additional focus on accelerating the energy transition. The lead times for tank terminals to prepare for certain new technologies, such as clean hydrogen, are relatively lengthy with high safety and construction costs so we will play an important role in policy development in this area.’
The proposed recovery instrument, which the Commission has called Next Generation EU, has been designed to protect lives and livelihoods, repair the Single Market and build the economic recovery. As well as this €750bn fund, the Commission has also reinforced the EU budget for 2021-2027 to target the recovery, bringing the total EU budget to €1.85trn. The plan must be still approved by the European Parliament and Member States.
Money from Next Generation EU will be distributed according to three main pillars – Support to Member States with investments and reforms, Kick-starting the EU economy by incentivising private investments, and Addressing the lessons of the crisis. It includes financial support for investments and reforms, a solvency support instrument, and a strategic investment facility aimed at generating investments of up to €150bn in strategic sectors, particularly those related to the green and digital transitions.
‘The recovery plan turns the immense challenge we face into an opportunity, not only by supporting the recovery but also by investing in our future: the European Green Deal and digitalization will boost jobs and growth, the resilience of our societies and the health of our environment,’ says European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
As part of the COVID-19 recovery plan, the Commission published a hydrogen roadmap for the EU Hydrogen Strategy looking at how the use of hydrogen could become more mainstream in Europe. The roadmap suggests various actions to promote the production and use of clean hydrogen, such as increased R&D spend and how to fund hydrogen infrastructure. It also covers energy security and the use of non-renewable hydrogen, known as blue hydrogen. The Commission is expected to formally announce the EU Hydrogen Strategy in June, following publication of the roadmap, which will include how clean hydrogen could play a role in the pandemic recovery period.
Bhatiani said that FETSA will send its hydrogen recommendations to the relevant officials, ensuring that the voice of the tank storage industry is heard. FETSA will also participate in the EU Hydrogen Alliance, which will play a role in future policy decisions.
‘Hydrogen is becoming a major political priority,’ says Bhatiani, adding: ‘The Commission is linking hydrogen investment to geopolitics and energy security in the EU. It is being seen as a strategic and critical sector for the future, which means enhanced EU funding (contained in the recently announced new EU budget proposal) to create a clean hydrogen industry in the EU. It ties into the current EU priority of increased ‘sovereignty’ and ‘resilience’ in key technologies and supply chains to reduce reliance on Chinese, U.S. and Russian technologies and resources.’