The High-Level Conference on Hydrogen “Hydrogen in Society – Bridging the Gaps”, organized by the Portuguese Ministry for the Environment and Climate Action on April 7, 2021, was a success in terms of organization and participation.

The agenda, filled with personalities from the hydrogen sector, featured the Hydrogen TCP Chair, Paul Lucchese, who gave an overview of the TCP past achievements, current work, and future expectations.

The Conference started with an Opening Session from the Portuguese Minister for the Environment and Climate Action, João Pedro Matos Fernandes. The focus was set on the role Portugal is playing on the Clean Energy Transition and the efforts the country is doing to achieve carbon-neutrality objectives by 2050. “Hydrogen will truly be a game-changer”, stated the Minister.

The potentialities Portugal present in terms of deployment of solar and wind energies, its strategic location, and its predisposition towards cooperation with other states are enormous assets for the imminent deployment of a green hydrogen economy.

Apart from the various national mechanisms, the Portuguese Administration is implementing, the Minister has emphasized the need for international cooperation to accelerate the implementation of a green hydrogen economy. He stressed two milestones in line with the abovementioned: the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Netherlands to export green hydrogen to the Port of Rotterdam and the joint declaration of cooperation on green hydrogen with Morocco.

The European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson, then took over and remarked five “fundamental aspects of building a hydrogen market for Europe”. She talked about (1) strategy, hydrogen’s role within the Green Deal, (2) implementation, (3) finances and the expected investments of about 320 – 460 billion euros by 2030 in electrolysers, renewable generation and infrastructures, (4) the need for international collaboration and (5) Portugal as an “example for Europe’s energy system in the near future”. Her full speech is available here.

The Conference was structured in 6 thematic blocks: European policies & strategies to create a real market on hydrogen, International vision for hydrogen market: challenges & opportunities, Towards a hydrogen economy: bridging the gaps, Funding & financing the hydrogen economy: an integrated perspective, Industrial clusters: the power of partnerships, and Hydrogen in decarbonisation sectors of the economy.

The third block, “Towards a hydrogen economy: bridging the gaps” was moderated by Paulo Partidário, Head of Scientific Council, Directorate-General for Energy and Geology as well as Portugal’s representative at the Hydrogen TCP Executive Committee. He first introduced Hélène Chraye, Head of Unit, Clean Energy Transition, DG Research and Innovation at the European Commission, who reminded the ambitious nature of the European Union’s objectives of 6GW of electrolysers by 2024 and 40GW by 2030 and its possibilities for becoming a “market leader in the use of clean hydrogen in industry”.

Chraye also presented a few ongoing activities and stressed the energetical poverty situation millions of European citizens live in: “hydrogen needs to be affordable”. Finally, she called for collaboration among European states in order to use common infrastructures to develop technologies inside the EU.

The second speaker in this block was Mirela Atanasiu, Head of Unit Operations and Communications at the Fuel Cells & Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU). She explained how the public-private partnership has mobilized around 1 billion euros of private funding plus an additional billion of private investment to finance some 285 projects.

As well as some of the success stories mentioned by Atanasiu, it was noted that in 10 years, electrolyser technologies have developed from 0,5MW to 100MW. Among the FCH JU current and future plans are developing a methodology and needed definitions for Guarantees of Origin, establishing the Clean Hydrogen Partnership, or fostering collaboration especially on regulation, codes and standards.

The third speaker, João Bernardo, Director of the Portuguese Directorate-General for Energy and Geology, presented the main national objectives and plans of action towards a green hydrogen economy, including the National Energy and Climate Plan (PNEC 2030) and National Strategy for Hydrogen (EN-H2), proof of the country’s compromise.

Lastly, our Chair, Paul Lucchese, gave an overview of the Hydrogen TCP’s work, past activities, plans, mission, and expectations. He emphasized the ongoing Tasks’ coverage and their scope as well as the Tasks in definition, and he called for action to all hydrogen field-related experts to explore the possibilities of joining programs such as ours.

Once again, and in line with the rest of the speakers, Lucchese took the time to note the importance of collaboration, both within the IEA Network and with external organizations and entities. “Our motto is Global collaboration for research and innovation in hydrogen technology: global, because we need to address global issues such as the environmental crisis from the common ground; collaboration, because there is no possible way to find solutions for such problems exclusively from an individualistic perspective; and research and innovation, because more than 30 years of history give us the know-how and the expertise required for this job”, he concluded.

Let’s hope that these interventions help the hydrogen field-related stakeholders become aware of the many, useful, ongoing initiatives pushing the establishment of a hydrogen economy forward.