Brussels, 21st January 2021 – The European Geothermal Energy Council, together with a broad coalition of 33 businesses, industry associations, NGOs and think tanks urge the European Commission to prioritise available efficient and sustainable solutions to decarbonise Europe’s building stock and avoiding the direct use of hydrogen for this purpose.
Addressing the European Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans in an open letter, the co-signatories underline that massive emissions reductions in the building sector will be needed (<60% compared to 2015) to achieve a higher 2030 EU climate target. This requires applying the energy efficiency first principle and boost the integration of renewables, as envisaged by the Renovation Wave strategy.
Philippe Dumas, EGEC Geothermal Secretary General, said “The European Union should tap into clean, ready-to-use and affordable solutions to cut down emissions in buildings. Geothermal heat pumps and district heating, for example, are among the cheapest and most efficient low-carbon technologies. This would be the most sensible, economically-viable and environmentally-friendly path for the European Union to reach carbon-neutrality by 2050”.
While it is true that renewable hydrogen can play a role in decarbonising hard-to-abate sectors, its direct use for heating on a large scale is problematic because it comes with many uncertainties linked to the scalability, costs of its production and inefficiencies, the letter says.
To optimise the process of heat decarbonisation in the medium and long-term, the EU should favour energy efficiency options as they can immediately deliver real carbon savings, while accommodating a growing share of renewable sources.
The co-signatories call on the Commission not to overestimate the potential of “zero-emission gas”, which would be mostly imported from abroad. Doing that would constrain EU taxpayers to fund unnecessary infrastructures, such as gas pipelines (or their upgrade), diverting financial resources from immediately applicable and more sustainable heat decarbonisation solutions.
Notes to the editors
The efficiency factor between green hydrogen and competitive technologies is so large that hydrogen is not a viable option when it comes to heating in buildings. For example, it takes about five times more wind or solar electricity to heat a home with hydrogen than it takes to heat the same home with an efficient heat pump.,