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The European Union’s plans to include natural gas pipeline projects that could be converted to carry hydrogen in the EU’s multi-billion-euro program for subsidies to crucial infrastructure projects is support for major fossil gas producers, environmental organizations say.
The EU is set to debate and decide in the coming weeks which energy infrastructure projects to include in the so-called list of Projects of Common Interest (PCI), which are entitled to billions of euros of EU support.
However, environmental campaign groups, including Food & Water Action Europe and Global Witness, told the Financial Times that the list of projects includes fossil fuel pipelines that could be converted to hydrogen pipelines, with high uncertainty they would work for hydrogen. Such projects would only give an excuse to fossil fuel companies to keep using natural gas pipelines, they claim.
The EU’s subsidies for PCI could be “handed to rich fossil fuel companies to maintain polluting gas infrastructure,” Global Witness senior campaigner Dominic Eagleton told FT.
The EU's renewables strategy includes the ambition to produce 10 million tons and import 10 million tons of renewable hydrogen in the EU by the end of this decade.
Earlier this year, the leaders of some of Europe’s biggest economies pledged to turn the North Sea into an offshore wind, hydrogen, and carbon capture energy hub.
Campaigners have also criticized the recent announcement of the U.S. Administration to extend $7 billion in grants to seven hydrogen hubs across America. Some hydrogen hubs will rely on natural gas plus carbon capture and storage to produce hydrogen—the so-called blue hydrogen. The grants will also benefit large oil and gas producers, including ExxonMobil, Chevron, and EQT Corporation, which are partners in the hydrogen hubs in the Appalachia region and in the Gulf Coast in Texas.
Numerous climate justice organizations have slammed the Biden Administration’s hydrogen plan, saying it is extending the life of the fossil fuel industry while greenwashing its emission-reduction efforts.
“The massive build out of hydrogen infrastructure is little more than an industry ploy to rebrand fracked gas,” said Food & Water Watch Policy Director Jim Walsh.
“The Biden Administration has clearly fallen for this scam hook, line and sinker.”
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.