According to current scientific knowledge the emission of greenhouse gases is the source for anthropogenic climate change. In line with its strategy for sustainable growth, the European Union has put in place a series of energy policies strongly promoting the long-term reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, a major challenge in the EU energy sector continues to be security of supply and strong dependence on fossil fuel imports from foreign countries. It is well known that the EU imports over 60% of its gas and 80% of all the oil, this situation affects strongly all sectors, but in particular the transport sector. To reduce the impact of CO2 emissions on climate and improve the socio-economic conditions of its Member States, renewable Energy policy is central on the EU political agenda, particularly over the last decade during which time ambitious targets for renewable energy production and consumption have been set up to 2020 and 2050.
The EU 2020 strategy set three key objectives for 2020, so called "20-20-20" targets:
- A 20% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels (or even 30%, if the conditions are right);
- A 20% share of energy produced from renewable energy sources;
- A 20% increase in energy efficiency.
With the launch of the European “Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050”, the European Commission aims to go beyond the above mentioned short-term objectives by setting out a long-term, cost-effective pathway for achieving much deeper emission cuts by the middle of the century. The share of clean technologies in electricity generation could increase to almost 100% in 2050 while emissions from transport could be reduced to more than 60% below 1990 levels.
Hydrogen is expected to play a key role in a transition towards a low-carbon economy, especially within the transport sector, the energy sector and the (petro) chemical industry sector. These sectors are still strongly dependent on hydrocarbons, and may enable the transition to future decarbonized mobility, and a decarbonized energy and feedstock supply. Indeed hydrogen as a future energy carrier has several advantages:
- It can be produced from a wide variety of sources and processes, including from residual materials and renewable energy sources;
- It can be produced locally by excess electricity;
- It can be transported via pipelines;
- It can be mixed with natural gas;
- Easily stored, it does not emit CO2 and other harmful gases during combustion