For the energy transition, 13 EU countries are allowed to support the hydrogen industry with up to a further 5.2 billion euros. The EU Commission gave the green light for state aid on Wednesday. According to a press release, the authority assumes that this will mobilize additional private investment of seven billion euros.
The countries involved include France, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland and Spain. This is the second round of major hydrogen funding projects approved by the EU Commission this year - and others are in the pipeline. Germany is not there this time.
The funding now approved for 35 projects is intended, among other things, to support the construction of hydrogen infrastructure, another area is the development of technologies for the use of hydrogen in industry. According to the Commission, the focus should be on sectors in which it is difficult to reduce greenhouse gas emissions - such as the steel, cement and glass industries.
"Hydrogen is crucial to diversify our energy sources and reduce dependence on Russian gas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said hydrogen is crucial for the green transition of Europe's energy-intensive industries "because it enables the carbon-free production of steel, cement and chemicals".
It is a so-called Important Project of Common European Interest. As a result, less strict rules apply when companies are supported with state funds.
In July, the EU Commission had already approved project funding for the hydrogen industry of up to 5.4 billion euros. Among them were four first projects from Germany. The Federal Ministry of Economics and Transport announced at the time that this was the first of several waves - other projects from Germany were in the approval process.
Above all, green hydrogen - i.e. hydrogen that is produced with renewable energies - is a beacon of hope for the energy transition. In principle, hydrogen can serve as the basis for fuels, to replace coal, oil and natural gas in industry and transport, for example. However, its production is very energy-intensive and currently still significantly more expensive compared to fossil fuels.