In his keynote speech at European Hydrogen Week in Brussels, Belgium, on Tuesday (October 25), Timmermans reflected on a ‘tremendous amount’ of work on hydrogen over the past three years.

Telling the flagship hydrogen event that just eight months ago 40% of the continent’s gas consumption was from Russia, whereas today, it has fallen to just 9%.

Timmermans said, “we should also put hydrogen on the top of the agenda for the green recovery from the pandemic. Since Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine, hydrogen also has to play a key role in our energy transition –  a key role in creating European energy sovereignty and weaning us of the dependency of Russian fossil fuels.”

Despite his positive stocktaking, the Executive Vice-President warned that there is a long road ahead, telling the delegation that the REPowerEU plan which plans to establish 10 million tonnes of domestic hydrogen production, as well as 10 million tonnes of imports by 2030, is “bloody ambitious.”

Read more: €200m for hydrogen research in REPowerEU Plan

“It sounds very ambitious, and it is bloody ambitious. But extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary solutions,” said Timmermans. “We should also be very clear that there’s no going back on cheap fossil fuels. That chapter is also closed. If we think in terms of cheap energy, it’s going to be renewable energy.”

Timmermans told European Hydrogen Week of the four priority actions he foresees for the development of hydrogen:

Accelerate investment
Provide regulatory certainty on the definition of renewable hydrogen and the principle of additionality
Finalise legislative work on the market design for hydrogen, renewable targets, and hydrogen sub-targets
Make public finances available to make hydrogen cost competitive.

The European Commission Executive Vice-President unveiled details to move forward REPowerEU commitments, announcing that the next Innovation Fund will be launched on November 3, 2022, with a €3bn ($2.99bn) to focus on three topic of the plan.

Firstly, €1bn will be allocated for electrification and renewable hydrogen production and use in industry. Secondly, €700m will be focused on the manufacturing of key clean-tech components. And finally, €300m will support mid-sized pilot projects with deep decarbonisation potential.

Closing off his speech, Timmermans made a call for further collaboration across the industry and governments. “Finally, let me stress that we can only reach our goals by working closely together and by adopting a wartime mentality.

“Not only when it comes to diversifying from gas, but also when it comes to bringing in more hydrogen into the EU economy. And let’s be clear, I said it many times before and I end on that: hydrogen rocks.”