[via Reuters]

BRUSSELS, July 15 (Reuters) – The European Commission on Friday approved a 5.4-billion-euro ($5.4 billion) hydrogen project jointly funded by 15 EU countries and 35 companies including Alstom and Daimler Truck, seeking to gain the edge in an innovative sector.

Other participating companies include Ansaldo, Bosch, Enel, Fincantieri, Orsted, and Plastic Omnium. The group will take part in 41 projects in the hydrogen scheme focusing on generation of hydrogen, fuel cells, storage, transportation and distribution of hydrogen and end-users applications, in particular in the mobility sector.

“Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine has only underlined the need for Europe to diversify its energy sources and fast-forward the green transition,” Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager told a news conference.

“Among the many technologies required, hydrogen proves to be an indispensable component,” she said.

EU industry chief Thierry Breton said the project also underlined the bloc’s move away from fossil fuels.

“It enables the clean transition of energy-intensive industries and increases our independence from fossil fuels,” he said.

The project, called IPCEI Hy2Tech, aims to attract another 8.8 billion euros in private investments.

Products targeted under the program include highly efficient electrode materials, high performance fuel cells and innovative transport technologies.

The 27-country bloc has in recent years approved jointly funded projects in batteries, microelectronics and infrastructure, labelling such schemes as Important Projects of Common European Interest subject to looser state aid rules.

State aid in the hydrogen programme will be capped at the level of the eligible costs of the projects and their funding gaps, with countries allowed to claw back some of the aid if the projects generate extra net revenues.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Tomasz Janowski via Reuters