The New European Hydrogen Policy : beyond energy security, a transversal approach for Strategic Autonomy

21/9/2021

Abstract

Hydrogen has gone through several waves of enthusiasm, each ending in disillusion. Recently, it has attracted new interests due to new technological innovations and its decarbonisation potential. Despite common misconceptions, it is already massively used in world economies, specifically in heavy industries such as steel andammonia. Consequently, H2 is increasingly becoming a geopolitical object, impacting the future of hard-to-abate CO2 emitting sectors, through its cost-competitiveness and greening potential. As theEU enters a new ‘geopolitical age’, it needs to understand how hy-drogen might be a transversal geopolitical object with strong policy implications in climate, industrial and geopolitical actions. To tackle that issue, we propose a framework of analysis that goes beyond the current supply focus of Energy Security. Strategic Autonomy is a new framework that is relevant to new European geopolitical ambitions.

Trade and energy imports will lead to dependencies. Decision-makers need to understand that who the EU is dependent on lies within the political choices they make. It is the result of political objectives and decisions. Strategic Autonomy is found in the control over these decisions, the choice of dependencies and strategic po-sitioning. The EU will need to tailor its policy to the H2 industry needs: decarbonisation, control over the value-chain, technological leadership. But it will need to assume its political nature. This will force the Union to end ambiguity on the nature of its political power and the reality of its geopolitical ambitions. If approached properly, hydrogen policy could be one of the cornerstones of the EU’s new geopolitical power.