Bart Groothuis

Member of the European Parliament (VVD)

1. You negotiated and contributed to a report on the European hydrogen strategy for nine months. The European Parliament approved this report in May. What were the biggest controversies in the formation of this report and what do you think of the end result?

For me the most important thing was that the EU sends a clear and irreversible signal that the hydrogen economy is coming, through and for all of Europe. There is no alternative for industry and heavy transport and, moreover, investments are part of a 'no regrets scenario', so what are we waiting for? There was of course also opposition, especially about the role of gas in the production of hydrogen. On the left side of parliament you will find politicians who are afraid that blue hydrogen is a preconceived plan of the fossil sector and of polluting industries to keep their old business model alive as long as possible. And on the far right you will find politicians who think the focus on green hydrogen is nonsense. They believe that we can continue using natural gas for the production of hydrogen. Both political directions would make the strategy impossible: it is unthinkable for me to sign if the transformational role of blue hydrogen is made impossible. As a result, the chances of having affordable green hydrogen in the long run decrease in direct proportion. But it is also unthinkable to continue using fossil fuels indefinitely. Fortunately, there was a majority in the political center who is convinced that blue hydrogen is necessary for the transition. That also ended up well in the report of the parliament.

2. What are the biggest hurdles yet to be overcome in Europe regarding hydrogen?

There are still many hurdles to overcome. We have to establish international standards and 'guarantees of origin'. Investments must be made in a (large-scale) hydrogen infrastructure. Renewable electricity will have to be scaled up considerably and CC(U)S projects will have to be realized. In addition, innovation and research still need a strong boost. But that's not all. Companies still suffer from legislative hurdles, such as the 'additionality' principle. State aid rules must be adapted in such a way that the government can also support industry and innovative companies to switch to hydrogen. All this calls for a review of legislation. The European Commission will take a first step in its 'fit-for-55' package, which will be released on July 14. We will closely monitor the interests of the Netherlands in the European Parliament,.

3. With your view from Europe, what should the Dutch politicians do to realize the Dutch hydrogen ambition?

Show eagerness, guts and old-fashioned Dutch entrepreneurship. The difference with how we did this in the past is that the state now has to play an inescapably large role. Our country is less used to this than countries such as Germany or France, where astronomical amounts have been made available for the realization of hydrogen projects. Funds are also being released from Europe, but the Netherlands has not yet prepared any plans for this Recovery and Resilience fund. This is pre-eminently a fund that can be used to realize the hydrogen ambitions. I miss the eagerness to position the Netherlands as a hydrogen hub, as a frontrunner in Europe. We are best positioned for this, with great potential in offshore energy, energy clusters, CCS possibilities, ports, connections with the hinterland and above all the new gold in the ground: our gas pipelines that can be converted for hydrogen.

Bart Groothuis

As far as I'm concerned, we should be doing three things. First of all, there must be government support that will stimulate innovation in green hydrogen. We talk a lot about green hydrogen, but it is really still in its infancy. There are still many steps to be taken before we can scale up and have a positive business case. Secondly, we quickly need to take serious steps with blue hydrogen. With blue hydrogen we can get the market going and we can also relatively quickly reduce CO2 emissions in industry. And thirdly, I think that the Dutch government should come up with an import strategy. Although it is important that we start producing hydrogen ourselves, we will also have to import. We can do this for the rest of Europe through our ports. Green hydrogen can potentially be produced much cheaper in countries where the sun shines a lot and the wind blows harder. If the Netherlands becomes European champion of hydrogen, we can take a top position and play a leading role in the world. We must make use of that.

- A European Strategy for Hydrogen

- S30: Podcast Studio Energie about the political battle over hydrogen in Europe