Green Hydrogen: Reduce the Bureaucracy Now!

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Green hydrogen and its market ramp-up are on everyone’s lips. 

Policymakers and scientists are discussing the way forward and how to accelerate the production, distribution, storage, and end-use of green hydrogen. This often involves the pros and cons of specific aspects such as the 10-gigawatt target for 2030 of the German National Hydrogen Strategy (NHS), the different colors of hydrogen, the utility of using green hydrogen in certain sectors, or overall regulatory challenges. 

However, the bureaucracy behind the implementation of green hydrogen is rarely discussed. As liberals, it is our responsibility to raise awareness of this issue and make the market ramp-up of green hydrogen not fail due to problems we created ourselves. 

 

The challenge for implementing green hydrogen 

The deployment of green hydrogen can be viewed as a wicked problem. 

On the one hand, the wickedness stems from the inability to clearly and unambiguously frame the problem and a resulting inability to offer consensual solutions. On the other hand, this dilemma cannot be solved by adding empirical knowledge alone. In other words, the introduction of green hydrogen is not a societal challenge for which there is a technical and unambiguous solution. Rather, it is a problem that must be addressed at the social and political levels, with no definitive solutions.

However, there are some obvious challenges that we can tackle today. 

One of them is the bureaucratic procedures for granting national subsidies for green hydrogen. Across the EU, many countries have a national hydrogen strategy. This often involves billions of euros in funding for the production, distribution, storage, and end-use applications of green hydrogen. Under EU rules, these funding programmes must be reviewed by the European Commission to ensure they are compatible with existing state aid rules.

Considering the number of programmes across the EU, you can imagine how much bureaucracy this creates for the European Commission. This is a big problem. And why? Because on the receiving end are companies that rely on funding for the construction of demonstration projects for steel production, ammonia splitting, storage facilities, and many other important applications for a functioning hydrogen economy. However, lengthy procedures for granting national subsidies lead to uncertainty that this fast-moving sector cannot afford.

 

The way forward

We have it in our own hands to cut the red tape. So, let’s do it. Especially when an entire sector and the success of a green transition are at stake. 

Despite the obvious increase in staff to handle all the funding programmes from across the EU, we should focus on streamlining processes. This includes reforming state aid rules to allow national governments to fund green hydrogen projects without the need for Commission scrutiny. 

This is the only way to ensure that our bureaucracy can keep pace with the rapidly developing hydrogen sector.

Felix Schulz

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Felix Schulz
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