Latest EU proposals promote solar-powered buildings and launch world-first renewable hydrogen market

Following the launch of the European Commission’s ‘Fit for 55’ package in July, today Executive Vice-President Timmermans and Energy Commissioner Simson have unveiled the next chapters in the rollout of the European Green Deal.  

Today’s legislative proposals include the Hydrogen and Decarbonised Gas Package, as well as a proposal to recast the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBDII). 

The Hydrogen & Decarbonised Gas Package is set to boost the renewable hydrogen economy, creating the world’s first genuine market design for renewable hydrogen through its integration into the legislative framework of other gases. In addition, today’s proposals grant hydrogen access to gas pipelines, as well as creating the conditions for hydrogen to start replacing fossil gases in a cost-effective manner. 

The proposed EPBDII follows its predecessor from 2018, but where the original EPBD set ambitious sustainability standards for new buildings, this update places a much stronger emphasis on the decarbonisation of existing and worst performing buildings. 

Arthur Daemers, Policy Advisor, and co-ordinator of SolarPower Europe’s Renewable Hydrogen Workstream, said, “The Hydrogen & Decarbonised Gas Package gives us additional tools to encourage the uptake of renewable hydrogen in our economy. It is key that the definition of ‘low-carbon’ hydrogen introduced in this package remains distinct from that of ‘renewable’ hydrogen.” 

Daemers continues, “With the launch of this new framework, which complements the revised Renewable Energy Directive already on the table, we must now ensure that renewable hydrogen is specifically used to support sectors where direct electrification is not cost-efficient or not technically viable, for example in some energy intensive industries, the maritime and aviation sectors.” 

Miguel Herrero, Senior Policy Advisor and co-ordinator of SolarPower Europe’s Solar Buildings Workstream, said, “SolarPower Europe has long called for the revision of the EPBD to accelerate the decarbonisation of existing buildings with on-site solar and storage. We’re thrilled to see this recast EPBD extend its scope to include the reduction of emissions from buildings, beyond simply improving their energy performance. This is crucial when we consider that buildings represent 40% of the continent’s energy consumption and 36% of its GHG emissions. Beyond lowering emissions, renewable-powered, energy-efficient buildings lead to lower energy bills, protecting Europeans from energy price hikes.” 

Herrero continues, “Overall, today’s proposal for EPBDII is set to mainstream the installation of on-site solar and storage in building renovations, making it that much easier for Europe to benefit from the most low-cost and flexible clean energy source.” 

Claire Couet, Policy Director at SolarPower Europe said, “With EPBDII setting the scene to accelerate onsite solar and storage, solar power is ready to supercharge Europe’s renewable energy journey, putting households at the heart of the transition. We expect the Hydrogen & Decarbonised Gas Package to increase demand for renewable hydrogen, boosting the renewable hydrogen revolution already happening today.” 

Couet continues, “We are one step closer to achieving a 55% EU emissions reduction by 2030. However, to be truly ‘Fit for 55’, we must address Europe’s wider renewable energy targets. A minimum 45% renewable target for 2030 is within reach, and necessary to put the continent on the most cost-effective path to achieving its climate goals.” 

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