Members of the European Parliament have opted to support a hydrogen-based green transition in the transportation sector.

The decision by MEPs to uphold the goals outlined in the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation by the European Parliament’s transport committee has been welcomed by Hydrogen Europe (AFIR).
Parliamentarians chose to uphold the aims put forth by the rapporteur, Ismael Ertug, and the European Parliament’s transport committee colleagues in a vote earlier in October.

By the time the infrastructure is in place by the end of 2027, up to 1,780 hydrogen refueling stations (HRS) could be available throughout Europe, supplying up to 1 million tons of hydrogen per year, enough to power up to 59,000 trucks (assuming 60 kg/truck per day) (assuming a maximum distance of 100 km between each hydrogen refueling station along both the core and comprehensive TEN-T networks).

No more than 8,000 vehicles could be delivered under the council’s General Approach, and the absence of HRS coverage would make it unattractive to drivers and fleet operators.

The EP has demonstrated with this vote that clean hydrogen mobility is a workable and practical alternative to fossil fuels in the transportation industry paving the way for a  vigorous development of infrastructure for hydrogen refueling in Europe which will serve as a catalyst for similar regulations all over the world.

The “chicken and egg” conundrum, which plagues emerging technology so frequently, is likewise resolved by the AFIR vote. A rise in the use of fuel cell vehicles by both commercial and private users will result from the roll-out of these stations, which will drive automakers to produce more and better fuel-cell vehicles, enhancing their performance and lowering their cost.

edHydrogen Europe have applauded MEPs for their commitment to a sustainable and energy-secure Europe and looks forward to building on these goals in the upcoming talks with the Council presidency starting on October 27.

MEPs also chose to set a target of 2% renewable fuels of non-biological origin (RFNBOs) in maritime transport by 2030, rejecting a proposal of 6% RFNBOs by 2035 (supported by Hydrogen Europe).

This choice conflicts with the Renewable Energy Directive II (RED II) vote in the September plenary, where MEPs approved allocating 1.2% of all RFNBOs generated to maritime transport. This amount exceeds both the 2% agreed upon and the 6% suggested in FuelEU Maritime by a significant margin.

A 20% decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by 2035 and an 80% reduction by 2050 were also supported by the Parliament. The Commission’s suggested targets of 13% by 2035 and 75% by 2050 are higher than this.

Hydrogen Europe believes that the continued exemption for RFNBO sub-quotas for corporations and subsidiaries operating three or fewer ships represents a missed opportunity for the industry to sooner adopt sustainable fuels owing to the sector’s structure, where 50% of shipping businesses operate with a single vessel, therefore this measure will exclude 60% of all shipping companies.

The exemption leads to an unequal distribution of ship ownership, and there is also a chance that this loophole will lead to the division of major fleet owners into smaller subsidiaries in order to benefit from this exemption.

Hydrogen Europe’s CEO, Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, said that today’s vote represents a strong position from the Parliament that go beyond the Commission proposals and send a positive signal for the uptake of hydrogen in the road and maritime transport sectors.

“We are confident that clean hydrogen will play an important role in achieving the decarbonisation targets of both sectors.”

He added: “We commend MEP Ertug for his tireless efforts to promote clean hydrogen solutions in Europe. We will work with Member States and the European Parliament to ensure ambitions are not diluted, and possibly even increased, during the trilogues, as there is clearly scope to increase targets and obligations in line with what was agreed at plenary for RED II.”