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Energy (and environment) politics from a European perspective - newsletter (2)

This second newsletter has a very simple aim: give more visibility to what I am doing for several media outlets. My focus: energy and environment at a EU level.

Two pillars: i. Environment and energy developments at the EU level, ii. Global hydrogen developments

EU level: transatlantic relations and European Climate Law - link: (Opens in a new window)

Two busy weeks ahead at all levels: international relations, climate action, but also debates on key European policies

Thursday and Friday, the Leaders Summit on Climate organized by the US government. In addition to the American President Joe Biden, the Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but also the Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, the President of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud are expected to participate. According to the official note, among the top 25 countries in the world by GDP, only the Netherlands, Switzerland, Iran, Sweden and Belgium were not invited. The Russian President Vladimir Putin is also on the list of people who might attend

The meeting is also expected to lead to the convening of the Major Economies Forum (MEF) on energy and climate, a U.S.-led initiative that played a vital role in bringing about the Paris Agreement. At the moment, the focus seems to be on investment and technology

The European Union is ready. After a night of talks, negotiators reached a deal on the European Climate Law on Wednesday morning. The EU has to showcase the brand new agreement on the EU’s 2030 target

These days, the European Commission is paying particular attention to the overhaul of the Renewable Energy Directive. Vice President Frans Timmermans met with representatives of non-governmental organizations on Monday

Yesterday, he then took part in a dialogue organized by the US Parliament on the reconstruction of the Transatlantic Dialogue. Transatlantic relations are also on the agenda of Vice-President Margrethe Vestager and Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson who, among other things, will talk about offshore wind, participate in Energy Companies Week and in the informal meeting of European energy ministers scheduled for tomorrow

Tomorrow and on Friday the fourth meeting of the TEN-E regional groups on gas. TEN-E discussions also at the Council

Today the Commission should publish the first section of the sustainable finance taxonomy, which is not expected to include a final decision on whether to include or exclude nuclear and gas-fired power plants. Separate proposals on nuclear and gas are expected to arrive by the end of the year

Turning to the European Parliament, preparations are underway for next week's Plenary session. At the moment, according to several articles, a vote in plenary on the Withdrawal Agreement with Great Britain is not yet on the calendar

Last week

EUETS data shows that in 2020 CO2 emissions from gas power plants overtook those from lignite power plants for the first time, having already overtaken hard coal power in 2019. Power sector emissions fell by 17% compared to 2019 mainly due to hard coal and lignite’s continued decline, resulting in gas making up a record 34% of the sector’s total emissions, wrote UK-based think tank Ember

WHY: Debate on gas will increase over the next months and years (Opens in a new window)

Ember’s data were taken from the Commission’s quarterly report, in which the European Union’s executive branch wrote that “Coal generation in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina rose by 4% and 8% respectively in 2020. Nevertheless, both countries imported more from the EU than exported in 2020

WHY: Western Balkans rely on coal (70% of its energy needs). Decarbonisation will be both a political and financial effort. (Opens in a new window)

ENTSOG, the European association of gas TSOs, has published its Summer Supply Outlook 2021 and the accompanying Review of Summer Supply 2020. The conclusions from the Summer Supply Outlook report highlight that the European gas network is sufficiently robust in most parts of Europe

WHY: The gas markets are under they spotlight for financial and geopolitical reasons (Opens in a new window)

The Commission has taken steps to ensure that borrowing under the temporary recovery instrument NextGenerationEU will be financed on the most advantageous terms for EU Member States and their citizens. The Commission will use a diversified funding strategy to raise up to around €800 billion in current prices until 2026. "The funding strategy will operationalise the NextGenerationEU borrowing, so we will have all necessary tools in place to kick-start the social and economic recovery and promote our green, digital and resilient growth” commented Johannes Hahn, Commissioner in charge of Budget and Administration

WHY: Financing will be key for EU green policies (Opens in a new window)

Seven European transmission system operators signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the launch of Eurobar, an initiative for interconnecting offshore wind platforms across Europe. The aim of Eurobar is to efficiently and securely integrate offshore wind power into the European power grid, starting from current regulation and projects.

WHY: International coordination for offshore wind parks is needed to unblock investments (Opens in a new window)

The EU is still a long way from reaching its Green Deal target of 1 million charging points by 2025, and it lacks an overall strategic roadmap for electro-mobility, according to a new report by the European Court of Auditors (ECA)

WHY: Europe, and more generally the world, is lagging behind electro-mobility investments  (Opens in a new window)


Links: (Opens in a new window) (Opens in a new window)

Several heavyweights in Germany have announced projects to move forward with green hydrogen

  • Uniper plans to establish a German national hub for hydrogen in Wilhelmshaven

  • A second German company, RWE Supply & Trading, eyes import business opportunities. It clinched a deal with  Australian hydrogen project developer H2U to trade hydrogen  between Australia and Germany. “The planned LNG Terminal in Brunsbüttel, where RWE intends to book capacity, can be an ideal location for the future import of hydrogen into Germany”

  • The German government approved €52 million in funding for the €300 million Norddeutsches Reallabor (North German Physical Laboratory)

  • The City of Hamburg wants to become a major hydrogen location. Investments to be announced soo. 

  • Bosch, a German industrial conglomerate, penned a deal with  Chongqing-headquartered Qingling Motors to set up the Bosch Hydrogen Powertrain Systems joint venture in China

  • Germany’s gas TSO OGE is analyising collaboration opportunities with US and Italian vehicle companies Nikola Corporation and Iveco to create a “business structure” for hydrogen

The European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB) initiative has enlarged its perspective network, proposing 39,700 km of hydrogen infrastructures by 2040

Australia is flexing its hydrogen muscles.

  • Origin Energy wants to develop new infrastructures, collaborating with the Port of Townsville, in Queensland

  • Australia-based mining company Province Resources has penned a MoU with France's Total Eren

The Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) has called for public support for hydrogen from Australia, Brunei Darussalam, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Thailand

India has a plan

  • The Indian government  is ready to spend $200 million to promote the use of hydrogen, said Indu Shekhar Chaturvedi, the top official at India's Ministry of New and Renewable Energy

  • Uttam Group of Companies, a manufacturer of ultra-lightweight composite cylinders, bought U.S.-based Catalina Composites. The new entity, based in California, will now be known as Uttam Composites

The US is working on its hydrogen plans

  • The 50-company Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA), is pushing for  public and private investments in hydrogen

Spain is moving

  • The Port of Barcelona is collaboraitng with Aberdeen-headquartered Vysus Group for a new hydrogen refilling station 

  • Spain's BBVA  joined the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance

The UK is looking for hydrogen options other than “green hydrogen”

  • EDF Energy wants to produce hydrogen using energy from nuclear power and renewables

  • Storegga, Shell, and Harbour Energy signed a deal for “one of the largest and most mature U.K. CCS and hydrogen projects


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