Establishing a viable market for hydrogen within the European Union would mean shipping would have access to one of the alternative fuels it needs to move forward on decarbonisaton.
But, argue environmentalists Transport & Environment, relying on hydrogen imports to build such a market is unrealistic as it is questionable that potential exporters would be in a postion to deliver at the required volume in time.
"Most of the countries Europe is relying on for imports are not at all ready to scale up production," said Geert Decock, T&E's electricity & energy manager
The 6-7.5 million metric tonnes of renewable hydrogen that could be produced within the EU by 2030 would represent sufficient supply if restricted to sectors with few alternatives such as shipping, aviation and fertilisers. However, according to T&E, the volume of the alternative fuel required to meet the EU's hydrogen objectives is far beyond the demand encompassed in the bloc's 2030 green goals.
Developing a viable market for renewable hydrogen and electrolysers in Europe "with a laser sharp focus on those sectors that need hydrogen most, in particular aviation and shipping" should be the goal of policy makers, the environmentalist argued.
In Europe "that's a big enough challenge", Decock said. In the longer run hydrogen imports can play a bigger role, he added.