Last week - global: revolution in Court

A Dutch court ruled that Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell must reduce its carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2019 levels. The company currently aims to lower its emissions by 20%. Shell "expects to appeal today's disappointing court decision.”

No doubt about it. That’s the piece of EU news of the week, probably of the month, possibly of the year. The point is that (EU) environmental groups will be emboldened by the ruling. Additional environmentalists’ pressure would inevitably increase oil&gas companies’ reputation risk.

As said by Pascal Canfin, Chair of the Environment committee of the European Parliament, “this is a key element that will lead to accelerated climate action.” It is the first time a court orders a company to reduce its emissions in line with the Paris Agreement.

Similar trend from Texas - similar message from the most reluctant global oil&gas company to embrace climate commitments. ExxonMobil’s management has been defeated by a shareholder vote on the partial renewal of its board of directors, which now includes two new members prone to lead the energy giant towards greater sustainability. The new members are the expression of a small "activist" hedge fund, backed by Black Rock.

Likely consequences on oil markets, also on a geopolitical level (see Russia, Saudi Arabia and other oil and gas producers), especially keeping in mind that the G7 has agreed to phase out fossil fuel subsidies (source: Bloomberg).

Last week - Europe: shy revolution under the sea

https://www.staffettaonline.com/articolo.aspx?id=355287

Last week’s European Council did not come up with any major conclusion on climate change - no agreement on ETS, nor on how to split the costs of EU energy transition. Heads of state simply asked the Commission to present its own legislative package (Fit for 55), specifying environmental, economic and social costs and opportunities.

Meanwhile, the German energy strategy is taking shape. A solid one.

Angela Merkel and Erna Solberg inaugurated last week the NordLink, the longest undersea power cable in Europe (634 km), linking Germany and Norway.

Germany also presented the practical elements of its hydrogen strategy (see below).

And it is not doing so alone…

The EU has published a note after the EU-Japan summit called "towards a green alliance". Focus on renewable gases, technologies, global governance systems and industrial cooperation. "We will sign a memorandum of cooperation on hydrogen with Japan in the second half of this year," von der Leyen said after the summit.

Simson, in her speech at the Ambrosetti Technology Forum, said that hydrogen will amount to 13-14% of the European energy mix in 2050.

Simson also said that, in addition to the revision of the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Directives (as well as strengthening the Emissions Trading Scheme and revising the Energy Taxation Directive), the Commission will present a carbon border adjustment mechanism. This in July (as part of the Fit for 55 package).

Strategy on hydrogen and methane emissions reduction in November.

Simson also spoke with ITRE MEPs. Focus on industry and the transport sector, cross-border projects and incentives to facilitate the development of PPA contracts.

The UK showed a strategy that, somehow, resembles Germany’s (see below). The British government said it would award 167 million pounds of funding to help accelerate energy transition in heavy industries. London also unveiled its plans to build 10GW worth of offshore wind in the North Atlantic and connect it by undersea cables.

This is coherent with the recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA): electricity should be 90% renewable by 2050 and governments must brace for the challenge. And deliver.

Next week in Brussels: Fit for 55, Ukraine, EIB and EBRD

These days the European Commission will pay special attention to the banking system, digitalization and Artificial Intelligence. In the field of energy, Vice-President for Green Deal Frans Timmermans speaks tomorrow with social partners about the Fit for 55 (the package to be unveiled in July).

Also tomorrow, Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson will hear from Herman Halushchenko, Ukraine's energy minister, before a speech at the Global Ports Hydrogen Coalition launch event.

The Commission speaks with the president of European Investment Bank (EIB), and the Vice-President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

The EU executive organised many high-level meetings on hydrogen, steel, and energy infrastructures in the African continent.

Two rounds at the Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council. Focus on transport (aviation, and rail) on Thursday; ministers will speak about digitization on Friday.

The Slovenian government is also presenting its program for the Slovenian presidency, which will start on July 1. No significant changes expected.

Worth reminding that, next week, Energy ministers will discuss the revision of the TEN-E regulation. In the new texts that are circulating, there is an increasing emphasis on the "projects of mutual interest”. 

All eyes on gas. A group of countries is seeking to prolong EU funding for cross-border natural gas projects.

Meanwhile, the coordination between EU institutions and Biden administrations continue.

Hydrogen: Oman gets on the map, Germany strikes again

An international consortium announced earlier this month it is developing an integrated green fuels mega project in Oman, which will use “25 gigawatts (GW) of renewable solar and wind energy at full capacity to produce millions of tons of zero-carbon green hydrogen per annum.”This is potentially a game changer, as it shows that a growing number of countries are interested in investing (despite the complexities).

And then my two columns about hydrogen. Focus on Germany, France (and Spain).

Germany

Germany selected 62 projects under the IPCEI on hydrogen. These will be awarded €8 billion. The projects must now be approved by the European Commission under state aid rules.

https://www.pv-magazine.com/2021/05/28/the-hydrogen-stream-germany-keeps-the-lead-flurry-of-movements-from-france/

“We want to become the world's number one in hydrogen technologies,” said Economy Minister Peter Altmaier.

Another huge change in European energy markets: the German industry is joining forces to create the biggest hydrogen value chain on earth.

For instance, as written in a note, “the CEOs of BASF and RWE have signed a letter of intent covering a wide-ranging cooperation for the creation of additional capacities for renewable electricity and the use of innovative technologies for climate protection.”

German companies are also finding backing from international energy institutions. For instance, Siemens Energy signed a partnership agreement with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Aim: advancing the global energy transition based on renewable energy, with a focus on “regions presently lacking access to modern energy, developing the business case for green hydrogen.”

IRENA also asked governments to step up support to green hydrogen.

France

France is having significant problems with its renewable energy strategy, but last week was the first time Paris managed to show a certain commitment, and preset practical projects.

Eleven projects have been selected in the framework of H2 Hub Airport; Total bought a 20% stake in Hysetco, a company developing hydrogen mobility in cities; Peugeot announced that its new hydrogen vans will be available in France and Germany by the end of the year; Dijon, a city Northeastern France, is launching a €100 million hydrogen project; Energy Observer and the City of Paris organized events to raise awareness about the energy transition and the role of hydrogen.

In other words, public support, private initiatives and public engagement.

Some politicians and energy heavy weights remain critical about hydrogen in France, but their voices are becoming softer and softer.

Spain (but also Italy)

Spain’s renewable energy company Iberdrola and US-based power generation products producer Cummins signed a deal to promote a green hydrogen value chain in Spain by 2023. Commentators said the Iberia peninsula will become a leader in hydrogen production. That seems possible.

Meanwhile, Italian gas TSO Snam launched “Italy's first national center of excellence for hydrogen technologies.”

Other developments: transportation, ports

Movements also in the transportation sector: Everfuel is working to install H2 stations in Denmark, Hyundai Motor is about to start production of the world’s first mass-produced heavy-duty truck powered by hydrogen, whereas Toyota Motor developed the first racing vehicle running on a hydrogen engine to complete a 24-hour endurance test (we are still waiting news from Formula 1 - its governing body hinted that the sport's future is hydrogen-based).

And then ports: Norway start-up Gen2 Energy is teaming up with the Scottish Port of Cromarty Firth to create a commercial pathway to export green hydrogen from Norway into the U.K. energy market. Two additional messages: Norway will likely see new start ups in the hydrogen sector, Scotland maintains its Nordic vocation.

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