Opening remarks by President von der Leyen at the Clean Transition Dialogue on Hydrogen

Distinguished guests,
Dear Maroš,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to this first Clean Transition Dialogue. We have already set course on climate neutrality by 2050, with our legislative framework, Fit for 55. Now we are taking the European Green Deal to the next level.

It is about implementation. Tailor-made on the ground – through an enhanced dialogue with industry. We are starting by focusing on hydrogen. It is the natural starting point. Hydrogen has a central role to play in the transition to climate-neutrality. I do not have to tell you, how it can power heavy industries, propel our trucks, ships and planes. All of this with almost zero emissions.

Clean hydrogen shows that we can reconcile our economy with the health of our planet. And this is why we have put hydrogen at the heart of the European Green Deal. So allow me to take a few moments to explain what we have achieved so far.

First, on the regulatory framework for hydrogen. With the European Green Deal, we started with our climate law. Then in specific fields, like hydrogen, we set measurable – and very ambitious – targets. On how much clean hydrogen we should produce, import and consume in the EU by 2030. Only what gets measured, gets done. We defined what can and cannot be considered renewable hydrogen. We have sped up permitting for renewables and grids. So the EU regulatory framework for hydrogen is almost complete. We will soon have a full set of clear rules in place, to support our emerging hydrogen market. We are the only continent where this is the case. It means clarity and predictability for your investments. We have set the direction of travel, so that you can focus on what you do best – that is to bring ground-breaking innovation to businesses and families across Europe.

But the European Green Deal was never only about rules. It is backed by massive investment to speed up the transition. This is my second point. With NextGenerationEU and RepowerEU we are investing in hydrogen valleys, hydrogen trains, and clean-steel factories. In addition we have authorised over 17 billion euros in State Aid for 80 hydrogen projects across the EU. And now we are taking the next step.

We will have our first auctions of the Hydrogen Bank already next month. They will be backed by 800 million euros in European funding. This auction system will reward the most innovative and competitive companies, which can produce hydrogen at the lowest cost. We will fill the gap between your production cost and the price that the market is currently willing to pay. And this will create a virtuous circle – where the hydrogen market scales up, and consumer prices go down. Clean hydrogen can go mainstream. And this will create new jobs, new economies of scale, and new business opportunities
here in European Commission.

Thirdly, we are at the same time developing a global market for clean hydrogen. We have already signed hydrogen partnerships with countries ranging from Egypt, Kenya and Namibia, to Latin American countries. They have immense potential.Resources of wind and sun or geothermal in abundance. They could produce clean energy, transform it into clean hydrogen, and then ship it to the world. And this is crucial, both to create a local net-zero economy, and to meet the rising hydrogen demand here in Europe. Europe wants to be the global hydrogen leader, not only as a pioneer, but as a partner. So this is where we stand right now.

We have clear rules – to give you predictability.
We have public investments – to scale up and speed up.
We have international agreements – to build a global hydrogen market.
And the response from the private sector has been overwhelming. Europe is now attracting more investment in clean hydrogen than the US and China combined. 38 clean steel factories are either operational or planned, all powered by hydrogen. When we started the European Green Deal we had none.

The first hydrogen buses and trains are running in our cities and regions. European ports are racing to build hydrogen infrastructure and corridors. Yet our work is far from finished. On the contrary, it is only starting. Still many obstacles stand in your way.

There are 67 GW of electrolysers’ capacity in the pipeline. And that is amazing. It is well above our ambitious target of 40 GW by 2030 that we put in our hydrogen strategy. But our installed capacity is still too low. So we need to build a bridge between ambition and reality. And this is where today’s dialogue comes into play.

Executive Vice President Maros Šefčovič will guide you through the questions that we have put on the table. We also have new ideas that we want to test with you. For instance, I have proposed in my State of the Union address that we replicate with clean hydrogen what we are currently doing with gas. We could pool demand, on a voluntary basis, with the goal to increase demand, make it more visible, and match it with future production of hydrogen.

Today we would like to hear your input and your views. But we also want to hear your proposals. On the risks and needs that your sector faces. On the hurdles you deal with, especially when it comes to regulation. On how to improve access to finance and mobilise private investment.

Today is all about your voice. The next appointment will be the upcoming Hydrogen Week. Our goal is simple. We want to bring European hydrogen from niche to scale. We want Europe to be the global home of clean hydrogen. Thank you all for being here,and for your precious contribution to this dialogue