January 21, 2021
33 businesses, industry associations, NGOs, and think tanks joined forces to urge the European Commission to prioritise available efficient and sustainable solutions to decarbonise Europe’s building stock, and avoid the direct use of hydrogen.
Addressing EU Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans in an open letter, the co-signatories underline that to achieve a higher 2030 EU climate target, massive emissions reductions in the building sector will be needed (<60% compared to 2015). This requires applying the energy efficiency first principle and boost the integration of renewables, as envisaged by the Renovation Wave strategy.
While it is true that renewable hydrogen can play a role in decarbonising hard-to-abate sectors, its direct use for heating on a large scale is problematic because it comes with many uncertainties linked to the scalability, costs of its production and inefficiencies, the letter says.
To optimise the process of heat decarbonisation in the medium and long-term, the EU should favour energy efficiency options as they can immediately deliver real carbon savings, while accommodating a growing share of renewable sources.
The co-signatories call on the Commission not to overestimate the potential of “zero-emission gas”, which would be mostly imported from abroad. Doing that would constrain EU taxpayers to fund unnecessary infrastructures, such as gas pipelines (or their upgrade), diverting financial resources from immediately applicable and more sustainable heat decarbonisation solutions.