Explaining how the European Green Deal was born out of the necessity “to protect people and the planet”, she said greenhouse gas emissions in Europe have dropped by roughly 2.5% while the economy rose 3.5%.

“Right here, in Prague, for example along bus line 170 – buses on that route have started to be powered by hydrogen,” she said. “They make almost no noise and have zero emissions. And crucially, this is a new generation of buses produced by Škoda – the Czech automotive champion. And this is not the only example of hydrogen innovation made in Czechia.

“Tatra Trucks, for example, will present in November the first hydrogen-powered heavy-duty vehicle. It has been designed together with a host of Czech research institutions, for difficult terrains and extreme tasks, including firefighting and rescue operations. This was unthinkable just a few years ago.”

She said the passing of the Fit for 55 legislation is “the main pillar” supporting the European Green Deal.

“This is what European companies were waiting for: reliability and predictability. A strong sense of direction from Europe, so that they could invest, plan and innovate,” added the President.

“The Just Transition Fund is investing €1.6bn here in Czechia, with a strong focus on creating new hydrogen valleys in the very same regions now relying on coal. We are investing all along the clean hydrogen value chain, from production to storage, from transport to industrial applications. And these investments will create thousands of future-proof good-paying jobs.”

She concluded that the time has now come to engage with each and every industrial ecosystem. “This is why we are launching a new series of Clean Transition Dialogues with industry … we want to address the specific issues that individual sectors have, dealing with the European Green Deal, dealing with competitiveness, dealing with global challenges.”

Last year hydrogen accounted for less than 2% of Europe’s energy consumption and was primarily used to produce chemical products, such as plastics and fertilisers. The majority (96%) of hydrogen was produced with natural gas, resulting in significant amounts of CO2 emissions. The European Commission has proposed to produce 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen by 2030 and to import 10 million tonnes by 2030.

A key development involves the launch of the European Hydrogen Bank, and on November 23, a pilot auction (competitive bidding) will be launched under the Innovation Fund, supporting the production of renewable hydrogen for European consumers.

The Clean Hydrogen Partnership (2021-2027), a joint public-private partnership supported by the Commission, through Horizon Europe, is another key vehicle for driving hydrogen’s growth on the continent.