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News article27 July 2023Clean Hydrogen Joint Undertaking6 min read

How the Clean Hydrogen Partnership is driving the transition to a clean hydrogen economy

Before the summer break, we would like to look back on our outstanding achievements so far and offer a glimpse of our plans until the end of this exciting year.  

Share of funding according to scientific priority for the grant agreements signed under the Call 2022
Share of funding according to scientific priority for the grant agreements signed under the Call 2022

Since its creation in November 2021, the Clean Hydrogen Partnership has launched two Calls for Proposal under Horizon Europe: Call 2022 on 31 March 2022 and the second one - Call 2023 - on 17 January 2023.

We received an impressive number of 153 proposals from 1 524 organisations, established in 61 different countries, reflecting an ever-increasing interest in the development of hydrogen projects. While still running projects from the past programme H2020, we managed to sign 50 new grant agreements by mid-July and are in the final stages of grant preparation for remaining 3.

These projects will significantly advance research on hydrogen technologies, with the aim to improve efficiency and reduce cost of renewable hydrogen production, further develop storage and distribution solutions, and stimulate the use of low carbon hydrogen in hard to abate sectors, such as energy intensive industries, aviation, or heavy-duty transport.

EUR 68.2 million will continue supporting research on renewable hydrogen production, in particular funding the development of the European electrolyser technology, such as new electrolyser designs for advanced and scalable manufacturing and will help developing low and high-temperature electrolysers able to produce hydrogen at high pressure. Moreover, the funding will support the integration of a 30MW electrolyser in a refinery in South-East Europe where besides hydrogen, oxygen and excess heat from the electrolyser will be exploited in the refinery’s processes, and a 10MW electrolyser in Nort-West Europe on an off-shore barge. Besides electrolysis, funding will support alternative routes for green hydrogen production such as direct application of solar heat in water-splitting thermochemical cycles for renewable hydrogen production. These activities are implemented in close coordination with the European Innovation Council established in November 2022 through a Letter of Intent which was signed between the Clean Hydrogen Partnership and EISMEA.

EUR 38.9 million will be also provided to support EU-wide hydrogen infrastructure/distribution, to develop technological solutions for hydrogen pipelines such as the effect of injecting various natural gas/hydrogen blends in non-steel metallic gas grid materials and the development of a novel sensor-system for leak detection for various hydrogen/gas applications, ensuring the safety of the hydrogen technology in use. In addition, distribution by road will be further supported in developing the next generation of compressed gas tube trailers with increased capacity (e.g. 1.2 tonnes of hydrogen in a single trailer. In supporting the even larger hydrogen infrastructure and related types of hydrogen carriers, JU will fund solutions for innovative cracking of ammonia and solutions for dehydrogenation of liquid organic hydrogen carriers, while also exploring the development of a liquefaction prototype for 100 tonnes per day and a large liquid hydrogen containment concept for shipping with a capacity of 10 tonnes. Finally, on the Hydrogen Refuelling Stations infrastructure, funding will support scaling-up of a novel compression system targeting better availabilities, lower cost and improved efficiency, the development of refuelling protocols as well as of improved components to help address the requirements of heavy-duty applications and improvement of the quality assurance mechanisms for a high-level of customer satisfaction.

On the end-use applications, funding will continue to be provided for different technological solutions both on transport applications but also clean heat and power production. For the transport applications, EUR 91.5 million will continue to support innovative membrane electrode assemblies (MEA) and proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) stacks for heavy-duty vehicles and development of fuel cells (low and high-temperature PEMFC) as well as cryogenic and lightweight storage systems for aviation. In order to maximise synergies in research activities and allocation of funds, the Clean Hydrogen Partnership is working closely together with the Clean Aviation JU (Memorandum of Understanding). The JU will also continue to demonstrate in real field the different technological solutions such as providing support to H2Accelerate project for at least 150 heavy-duty vehicles (trucks) along the TEN-T corridors; this project will be implemented in synergies with the Connecting Europe Facility programme which will support the necessary refuelling infrastructure. In addition, another flagship project will demonstrate at least five inland vessels with fuel power above the 500kW scale in close synergies with the Zero Emission Waterborne partnership. Similarly, for the clean heat and power applications, EUR 17.7 million will fund solutions for innovative manufacturing processes for solid oxide fuel cells systems and components with a direct involvement of automation/equipment manufacturers. In addition, funding will also now be provided to developing innovative and highly efficient ammonia fuel cell solution and to developing next generation of gas turbines able to run on higher admixtures of hydrogen, up to 100%, whilst keeping low NOx emissions, high efficiencies and flexible operation.

Beyond R&I activities, EUR 8.5 million continue to support projects on different cross-cutting issues such as raising public awareness, trust and acceptance for hydrogen technologies, increasing the level of safety of hydrogen technologies and applications,  safety aspects of handling liquid hydrogen in public areas and the impact of injecting hydrogen on gas transportation and distribution network; these projects will provide inputs to Regulations, Codes and Standards. In addition, and building on results from previous and ongoing projects, funding will be provided to the validation of technical and metrological requirements for measuring devices used in the gas distribution and transmission networks, activities which are expected to result in the definition of hydrogen limits and tolerances for currently used measuring devices, to be implemented in synergies with the activities of the European Metrology Programme for Innovation and Research (EMPIR) and European Partnership on Metrology of EURAMET. Finally, support will be provided to foster cooperation with Africa through the preparation of a strategic and comprehensive innovation roadmap to technology development and market introduction in the context of African national and continental industrial strategy and energy infrastructures.

Looking at a more longer term and preparing the next generation of technology, JU is now supporting with EUR 10 million the first Strategic Research Challenge in the hydrogen sector on sustainability and criticality of electrolyser and fuel cell materials, in particular replacement of the critical (raw) materials (CRM) including those of environmental concerns (e.g., polyfluorinated ionomers), reduction in the amount of CRM used and high-efficient recycling approaches.

Finally, as Hydrogen Valleys remain one of the main priorities of the EU since they are instrumental for scaling up green hydrogen production, supply and consequently to meet the growing demand from industry, transport, and other sectors, the JU budget was topped-up with an additional of EUR 200 million through REPowerEU with the aim of doubling the number of Hydrogen Valleys in Europe by 2025. A total of 9 Hydrogen Valleys proposals submitted under the Call 2022 were invited for grant agreement preparation in between the end of 2022 and the start of 2023. With a total funding request for EUR 105.4 million these Valleys are expected to mobilise investments of at least 5 times the funding provided by the EU or above EUR 0.5 billion. A total of 6 grants have been signed by now and signature for the remaining 3 are expected after the summer-break. Some of these grants are being supported using already this Repower budget for Hydrogen Valleys.

Two Hydrogen Valleys are of a large-scale i.e., producing at least 5,000 H2 tonnes/year. The first will be spread across the North Adriatic area (comprising Croatia, the Autonomous Region of Friuli Venezia Giulia in Italy, and Slovenia) and the second aims to build a hydrogen corridor across Baltic Sea countries, including Estonia and South Finland. In addition, seven smaller scale Hydrogen Valleys (of at least 500 H2 tonnes / year), focusing on areas of Europe with no or limited presence of hydrogen will be funded in regions in Bulgaria (Stara Zagora), Greece (Crete and Corinthia), Ireland (Galway), Italy (Lombardy), Turkey (South Marmara) and Luxembourg. Altogether the ongoing Hydrogen Valleys supported by the JU could produce more than 15,000 tons hydrogen per year across 12 European countries.

Looking ahead, for the Call 2023 the Clean Hydrogen Partnership has also received 132 proposals for the indicative budget of EUR 195 million covering research and innovation activities across the whole hydrogen value chain. Evaluations are ongoing and applicants will be informed soon about the results; additional 25-30 grants are expected to be signed by the end of the year.


Publication date
27 July 2023
Clean Hydrogen Joint Undertaking