The EU aims to be climate-neutral by 2050 – an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The transition to a climate-neutral society is both an urgent challenge and an opportunity to develop new technological pathways. In this regard, CO2, H2 and O2 are showcasing themselves as allies for decarbonisation, provided they are properly exploited.
Since the energy system cannot be 100% electric, molecules will still be needed. By combining CO2, H2 and O2 with heat and electricity, it will be possible to shift away from traditional derivatives of fossil oil and gas. For example, in the transport sector, hydrogen could be a solution to fuel heavy-duty vehicles and medium-haul aircrafts. Sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) could be a good alternative for air transport, and e-fuels and methanol for shipping could materialise in the 2030-2040 decade. New industrial processes can also be developed in the cement, steel and chemical industries. All these new energy pathways are based on combinations of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon, which will ultimately be of biogenic or atmospheric origin.
As the Green Deal objective is to make the EU both climate neutral and more energy independent, it is crucial that the development of new pathways doesn’t result in new dependencies, either on hydrogen providers or on critical raw materials.
Switching directly to renewable hydrogen, direct air capture and biogenic carbon may prove difficult considering the current maturity level of these technologies. Another strategy could be to adopt a phased approach prioritising the reduction of CO2 emissions through existing technologies, such as capture and storage of CO2 coming from hydrogen production or hard to abate industries, while steadily building additional production capacities of renewable and low carbon hydrogen to match the growing energy demand.
Join this EURACTIV Hybrid Conference to discuss the potential of CO2, H2 and O2 in decarbonising the EU’s energy sector and whether a consensus can be found for “the best strategy”. Questions to be discussed include:
– Which pathways will the use of CO2, H2 and O2 develop and in which sectors should their use be prioritised?
– How can we ensure that the use of hydrogen will not result in new dependencies?
– To what extent can carbon storage contribute to reducing the EU’s carbon footprint? Can carbon storage in the North Sea be an appropriate solution?
– Where will the carbon needed for manufacturing come from? Is direct air capture a realistic future solution?
– Is it realistic to almost double the gross electricity production of the EU to power the new energy system?
– What is the added value of the Fit for 55 and REPowerEU packages? What should be the next steps in terms of legislative developments and initiatives?
– What are the required conditions for European industry to maintain its competitiveness in developing new sustainable energy solutions? Can Europe lead America in this field?