Renewable electricity from the sun and wind becomes climate-neutral hydrogen
The EU's RRF fund supports the energy transition: energy from the sun and wind power plants is converted into climate-neutral hydrogen in electrolysis plants

Climate action and digitalisation: The EU’s RRF fund makes Europe more crisis-proof

The EU Member States are having to overcome many hurdles on route to the future, especially in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. Development funding from the Recovery and Resilience Facility will help here.

Energy from renewable sources provides a key factor in tackling climate change. With the right technologies, power from the wind and sun can not only be stored, but also transported to places where neither wind farms nor solar parks are located. This is where climate-friendly hydrogen, also known as green hydrogen (H2), comes into play.

The economic starting conditions are, however, often not very attractive. The EU can help here, including with Europe’s RRF crisis fund, which supports numerous development projects. Co-financed by the RRF, the “doing hydrogen” project is now starting in northern Germany.

Producing hydrogen in the north, transporting it to the south

The project will start in February 2023 and will connect producers, gas grid operators and major hydrogen consumers. For example, the APEX Group from Rostock-Laage is building a 100-megawatt electrolysis facility by 2027 that will produce green hydrogen at the Laage site. In the process, northern Germany will act as a centre for hydrogen imports and production. And other partners in the project are converting pipelines for transporting H2 so that the energy gas can also be used in the south.

“doing hydrogen” is benefitting, amongst other things, from the German Recovery and Resilience Plan (DARP), which forms part of the European Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The EU is using this development tool to cushion the economic and social consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, business and society are set to become more crisis-resistant, sustainable and, last but not least, more digital.

The scheme therefore not only helps the EU achieve its target of climate neutrality by 2050. Funds from the RRF are also helping, for example, to develop vaccines, construct climate-friendly timber buildings and digitalise education. This is an area where Germany has a lot of catching up to do, often because teachers lack the necessary technical equipment. With the help of DARP, the German federal government is now supporting the federal states in expanding digital opportunities in schools.

RRF makes mobile digital devices possible for teachers

500 million euros will be used, for instance, for providing mobile end devices including software for teachers (notebooks and tablets, but no smartphones). The programme has met with considerable interest – claims for 450 million euros-worth of end devices had already been submitted by the end of March 2022.

Member States wishing to benefit from RRF support must submit national Recovery and Resilience Plans that outline reforms and investments that can still be delivered by the end of 2026. Projects that advance the green and digital transformations stand a good chance of success. If agreed milestones are reached, corresponding disbursements will be paid out.

Germany is entitled to around 25 billion euros from the RRF. The first plans for projects from Germany were already submitted to the EU Commission back in December 2020. The climate-friendly measures alone cover a broad spectrum that ranges from phasing out climate-damaging energy production by utilising green hydrogen, to climate-friendly mobility and construction. And digitalisation measures run through almost every aspect of the recovery plan.

Poland building offshore wind turbines with the help of the RRF

Other Member States are also becoming more resilient with the RRF fund. Poland, for example: As recently as June 2022, the EU Commission positively assessed Poland’s Recovery and Resilience Plan. This includes funding for offshore wind turbines as well as decisive changes to the legal framework to facilitate the construction of the turbines. Green hydrogen is also a topic, as is the energy efficient refurbishment of buildings.

In total, the EU is providing €723.8 billion through the RRF, €385.8 billion of which is in loans and €338 billion in grants. In addition to promoting climate action, sustainability and digitalisation, the EU is hoping that this will bring economic growth. The RRF entered into force on 19 February 2021 and runs until 31 December 2026.

Tim Müßle