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  • Author: Ben McWilliams, Georg Zachmann
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: Hydrogen is seen as a means to decarbonise sectors with greenhouse gas emissions that are hard to reduce, as a medium for energy storage, and as a fallback in case halted fossil-fuel imports lead to energy shortages. Hydrogen is likely to play at least some role in the European Union’s achievement by 2050 of a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target. However, production of hydrogen in the EU is currently emissions intensive. Hydrogen supply could be decarbonised if produced via electrolysis based on electricity from renewable sources, or produced from natural gas with carbon, capture, and storage. The theoretical production potential of low-carbon hydrogen is virtually unlimited and production volumes will thus depend only on demand and supply cost. Estimates of final hydrogen demand in 2050 range from levels similar to today’s in a low-demand scenario, to ten times today’s level in a high-demand scenario. Hydrogen is used as either a chemical feedstock or an energy source. A base level of 2050 demand can be derived from looking at sectors that already consume hydrogen and others that are likely to adopt hydrogen. The use of hydrogen in many sectors has been demonstrated. Whether use will increase depends on the complex interplay between competing energy supplies, public policy, technological and systems innovation, and consumer preferences. Policymakers must address the need to displace carbon-intensive hydrogen with low-carbon hydrogen, and incentivise the uptake of hydrogen as a means to decarbonise sectors with hard-to-reduce emissions. Certain key principles can be followed without regret: driving down supply costs of low-carbon hydrogen production; accelerating initial deployment with public support to test the economic viability and enable learning; and continued strengthening of climate policies such as the EU emissions trading system to stimulate the growth of hydrogen-based solutions in the areas for which hydrogen is most suitable.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, European Union, Carbon Emissions, Decarbonization, Hydrogen
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: The annual report includes an overview of Bruegel’s research, governance and financial statements, and takes stock of Bruegel’s accomplishments and impact during 2019. Bruegel will continue to work to develop a proactive European strategy to deal with all the challenges ahead, providing free and open access to its research.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Dion Bongaerts, Dirk Schoenmaker
  • Publication Date: 11-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: The market for green bonds is growing rapidly and has been boosted by the European Commission’s plan to raise through green bonds 30 percent of the up to €750 billion that will be borrowed under the Next Generation EU coronavirus economic recovery programme. But while green bonds can reduce the financing costs of green projects and technologies, their current design means they fall short of fulfilling their full potential. Issuing green bonds alongside regular bonds fragments bond issues, reducing liquidity and thus increasing financing costs. Moreover, green bond prices reflect liquidity, credit risk and environmental performance jointly, which makes it difficult to isolate the part of the return on the bonds that relates to environmental performance. We propose an alternative: issuance of regular bonds with attached green certificates that ensure earmarking for green purposes. The new design would lead to more liquid securities (as only regular bonds are issued), which would reduce financing costs and in turn would provide incentives to start a greater number of environmentally-friendly projects. The new design would also make market prices more informative about environmental performance. In addition, green certificates would address the criticism that green bonds are used mostly for refinancing existing green projects rather than for new projects. Sovereigns are among the largest issuers of bonds and are therefore natural candidates for implementation of green certificates. The European Commission could also issue regular bonds and green certificates to finance the European Union’s recovery package, and should include green certificates in the under-preparation EU Green Bond standard. Commission issuance of green certificates would give a major boost to EU bonds as liquid safe assets while promoting green investment.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Finance, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: Global Focus