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The last weeks will go down in history as the beginning of the hydrogen blending era.

AGN will blend approximately 5% renewable hydrogen into its existing natural gas distribution network to deliver a blended gas to more than 700 homes in parts of the Adelaide suburb of Mitchell Park,” wrote last week Australian Gas Networks (AGN) - part of Australian Gas Infrastructure Group (AGIG).

Meanwhile, Italy’s gas TSO Snam launched the “world’s first test with a 30% hydrogen/natural gas  blend” in steel forging. The mix was used to power furnaces at the Rho plant of GIVA Group (Milan province). “In the medium to long term, hydrogen is in a position to become the solution for decarbonising steelmaking as well as all hard-to-abate industrial sectors that have a fundamental role in our economy,” commented Snam’s CEO Alverà.

The steel sector is though divided on the role of green hydrogen. David Clarke, the vice president of ArcelorMittal, appear to be quite skeptical about renewable hydrogen’s potential. 

On the other hand, during the same panel organised by Bloomberg NEF (BNEF), Danish energy company Ørsted underlined its push to create new collaborations, also in the steel sector.

Zooming out and looking at hydrogen production, Australia is the most upbeat country at the moment. “We think it is not beyond the pale to suggest that in the next 10 years that we could be producing up to 100GW of renewable energy for hydrogen and by 2040 that could be up to 200GW of power,” Western Australia’s Hydrogen Minister Alannah MacTiernan commented recently.

Significant developments also in California, where the Green Hydrogen Coalition wants to reach the 1.5 euro/kilogram threshold before 2030.

Public funds will support the development of a hydrogen sector in Europe.

DEPA Commercial, as project coordinator, in collaboration with Advent Technologies, Damco Energy (Copelouzos Group), PPC, DESFA, HELLENIC PETROLEUM, Motor Oil, Corinth Pipeworks, TAP and Terna Energy submitted to the Greek Government and the EU their 8 billion Euro investment proposal, for the development of an  integrated green hydrogen project in Greece, DEPA wrote in a note last week.

North-West Europe remains though ahead of the EU hydrogen race. “The construction of four new pipelines between Rotterdam, Chemelot and North Rhine-Westphalia for the transport of C4-LPG, propylene, hydrogen and CO2 will yield several benefits,” reads a note released on Wednesday by the Port of Rotterdam, announcing that the feasibility study co-commissioned by the Dutch Government suggested to proceed with the €1 billion project.

Meanwhile, Chinese technology is ready to enter into the European market. Shanghai’s REFIRE, provider of hydrogen fuel cell technologies, has been granted the relevant EU certificates to introduce its products and services into the European market.

Finally, consultancy DNV is showing interest for more collaborations in the British hydrogen sector

Last week in Brussels and Strasbourg

The transatlantic ties are getting stronger. It doesn’t come as a surprise that the EU and the Biden Administration European Commission announced that they started coordinating to address global steel and aluminum excess capacity

Negotiations are ongoing on several fronts, and some “solutions” seem to appear on the horizon.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Wednesday last week that the Biden administration has decided to lift sanctions against Nord Stream 2. This might be a starting point. 

To be successful, though, the strategy requires  a lot of coordination on Ukraine, and not only. Even Ukraine might just be a single piece of a very complicated puzzle. 

“The EU has been consistently and strongly in favour of a global agreement on international taxation reform. That's why we warmly welcome the constructive engagement of the Biden administration in these talks,” said commissioner Gentiloni.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament blocked the ratification of the investment agreement with China "until Beijing government withdraws sanctions against some European politicians."

The Commission's intention to increase European ambitions in the climate field is clear, with a review in July of the ETS system, said Commission's VP Timmermans

Recent references to the ETS can be considered relevant and timely political messages. In fact, for the first time, emission prices, which are very sensitive to political messages, fell significantly last week.

The EU is also paying increasing attention to its offshore renewable potential. “The blue economy will play a crucial role in the European decarbonisation effort, especially through offshore renewable energy from wind, wave, tidal, floating solar or other technologies. We want to beef up the EU's installed capacity from 12 GW today, to more than 300 GW by 2050,” said Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius.

Last week, the EU’s push to decrease mobility’s environmental footprint made the headlines too. “Our strategy for sustainable and smart mobility calls for a 90% reduction in transport-related emissions by 2050. To achieve this, we want to see CO2-neutral scheduled transport for distances under 500 km in the EU by 2030; a doubling of high-speed rail transport in Europe by 2030 and a tripling by 2050,” said von der Leyen.

This week in Brussels, and Lisbon

EU leaders are meeting today and tomorrow. They will meet physically in Brussels to discuss the most pressing issues: pandemic, external relations (including Belarus), and climate change.

Climate change is also on the agenda of the EU-Japan summit (via video conference).

European institutions are trying to understand how to coordinate with traditional partners to deal with a possible Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism. The Commission’s proposal should be presented in July, but German politicians argue for a voluntary “climate club”. Summits like the one between Japan and the EU are first testing grounds.

My guess? Energy policies in Japan and Australia will heavily depend on Chinese decisions. For now, Japan (like Australia) seems quite interested in continuing upstream investments in oil&gas.

Only preparatory meetings and public hearings for the MEPs.

The EU strategy to reduce methane emissions will be discussed on Thursday during a public hearing organised by three EP committees (ENVI, ITRE, AGRI).

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