About the Pilot
Hydrogen has become a bustling field of interest as more and more European nations voice their ambitions to unlock hydrogen as a sustainable source of energy that will contribute to the decarbonisation agenda in multiple ways. Hydrogen is expected to play an important role as an energy carrier in this decade. It enables efficient and affordable energy transmission over long distances, storage of surplus electricity and environmentally friendly mobility, especially over long distances.
In July 2020, the European Commission published their ‘Hydrogen Strategy for a Climate-Neutral Europe’ in line with the European Green Deal, which is setting a strategic objective to install at least 40GW of renewable hydrogen electrolysers by 2030 and to produce up to 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen in the EU.
Recent developments in the energy sector have also propelled interest in clean, locally produced energy. Regions are at the forefront of the development of a hydrogen economy in Europe. How much clean hydrogen a region needs and what it is being used for differs greatly across different geographies and economic systems. At the same time, the hydrogen sector is continuously growing and evolving along the entire supply chain: from production to transport and storage, to the many applications in different fields. However, at present, not all the potential is being exploited in a coordinated manner.
The rise in energy prices across Europe and the Russo-Ukrainian War in 2022 have forced regions to consider energy security and fuel shortages as well as energy poverty more seriously. While not a short-term solution to the problem, hydrogen very much represents a key element of the European Commission’s vision to achieve a clean, more affordable, secure energy system. The development of hydrogen and hydrogen-related technologies is an important element to create the regional ecosystem of innovation within specific smart specialisations.
Activities & Long Term Goals
The pilot aims to bring participating regions to lead in the process of creating a hydrogen knowledge and innovation community with a particular attention to SMEs, and to play an important role in preparation of the milieu that will allow the EU's green hydrogen targets to be met. This ambition will be based on supporting the cooperation between various actors in the European hydrogen value chain, in order to boost the development of hydrogen in the industrial and technological phases.
The pilot will support the growth of the hydrogen economy and pool the knowledge, skills and capacities of stakeholders to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable energy system for industrial companies, including SMEs, and address three main goals:
- European competitiveness and technology leadership in hydrogen
- Transition to a clean and secure energy system
- A just transition and stimulating regional innovation ecosystems
The pilot will contribute to the achievement of the ‘Hydrogen Strategy for a Climate-Neutral Europe’ goals. Furthermore, it will involve industrial ecosystems, SMEs, regions and communities, representing an ecosystem of actors that mirrors the objective of an inclusive industrial strategy. The pilot explicitly aims to provide SMEs and industrial actors with accessible entry points toward state-of-the-art hydrogen technologies in the participating regions. By building on an existing network of labs and initiatives at high maturity level, the Pilot complements existing national and regional initiatives in Europe, by:
- facilitating the international scaling of regional solutions and service-providers in the field of hydrogen, with a special focus on SMEs;
- assigning resources and expertise from the industrial research environment to solve industry challenges;
- unlocking markets and business verticals to regional actors through the “special relationship” existing between VI Regions;
- promoting value chain capabilities at transnational level.