Speaking virtually at the start of European Hydrogen Week in Brussels today (November 20), von der Leyen said the second round would launch in spring 2024 in a bid to reduce the cost gap between renewable and fossil hydrogen.

“In spring 2024, we will launch the second round of auctions, reaching a total value of €3bn,” the President said. “It is a promise we made one year ago, and it is now becoming a reality.”

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The first pilot auction is set to open on Thursday (November 23), awarding up to €800m ($875m) to renewable hydrogen producers in the European Economic Area (EEA) by offering a fixed premium per kg of renewable hydrogen produced over 10 years.

In the terms and conditions published in August (2023), the Commission set a ceiling price of the fixed premium of €4.5/kg, provided the projects come into operation and demonstrate at least 100% of the nameplate capacity expressed in the bid, within five years of signing the funding contract.

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As well as the spring auctions, von der Leyen said the Commission was working on the “international leg” of the European Hydrogen Bank in an attempt to diversify imports of renewable hydrogen.

The EU has been on a steady march in recent months to build international hydrogen relationships with countries including Egypt, Kenya, Namibia, as well as South American nations.

“They have immense potential to produce clean energy, transform it into clean hydrogen, and then ship it to the world,” von der Leyen remarked.

The President also hinted that further initiatives will be announced over the course of European Hydrogen Week, with the likes of Kazakhstan, Australia and Oman, as the bloc looks to achieve its REPowerEU 2030 target of importing 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen.

“All of this shows, more than ever, that Europe is not only a clean hydrogen pioneer, but also a partner – to build a worldwide hydrogen market. With these public investments we are helping attract and mobilise massive private capital,” she said.

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Hydrogen Europe CEO Jorgo Chatzimarkakis has told H2 View Europe’s hydrogen policy resembles a “chaotic toolbox,” but believes recent developments have set the continent on course to establish a thriving hydrogen market.

Europe has unquestionably been a leader of hydrogen development and policy, with a strong focus on the energy carrier since 2020. However, May 2022 saw the European Commission take a bigger step, when it unveiled its landmark REPowerEU plan against the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The plan outlined the EU’s path to energy independence from Russian fossil fuels by 2027, setting aspirational targets to produce 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen domestically by 2030, and importing the same amount by the same date.

In an exclusive interview with H2 View, Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, CEO of Hydrogen Europe described the plan as a “leapfrog,” adding, “Europe already had a focus on hydrogen as of 2020, but Russia’s invasion caused an absolute global rethinking of energy policy.”

“It brought hydrogen onto a new level,” he continued. “I think leapfrogging describes it very well…

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