Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority (CERA) chairman Andreas Poullikkas on Tuesday said that the EU has for many years been devising a sustainable energy strategy to tackle climate change and strengthen its energy security, with the ultimate goal for the entire union to transition from a carbon economy to a hydrogen economy.

“In the future, hydrogen can be used in boilers to produce heat and as a transportation fuel for cars, buses, trains, ships and planes, while hydrogen could also be used to produce electricity using fuel cells or direct combustion,” Poullikkas said.

poullikkas raek cera

Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority (CERA) chairman Andreas Poullikkas

“The combustion of hydrogen with oxygen results in pure water vapour, which has many applications in industrial processes and for space heating,” he added, noting that hydrogen can also be used to produce energy in a completely different way, such as nuclear fusion.

In a long analysis piece, the CERA chairman posed the question of how exactly the EU can transition from a carbon economy to a hydrogen economy and what would this entail, both in terms of measures and considerations, as well as specific actions.

“Europe can accelerate the installation of the super-smart electricity grid that will connect Europe with the countries of North Africa and the Middle East, which will therefore result in renewable energy sources being installed on a large scale in areas with high potential, including biomass systems and hydropower systems,” Poullikkas said.

Furthermore, he explained that it will be possible to install wind farms in the North Sea and on the west coast of Europe and North Africa, while solar systems, including photovoltaic and solar thermal systems, will be able to be installed in Southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

In addition, wave energy technologies could be installed in the Atlantic Ocean and geothermal technologies in Iceland.

“With this geographical distribution of renewable energy sources as well as the use of hydrogen storage, it will be possible to use 100 per cent renewable energy sources in the future,” Poullikkas said, noting that by using hydrogen storage, the production of electricity from wind farms will be possible whenever wind potential is available.

“Should they not be able to directly inject the generated electricity into the system (for example when there is low power demand), they could produce hydrogen through water electrolysis,” he added, explaining that hydrogen can be stored and used during the day to meet peak demand or in other energy sectors such as transport.

Poullikkas said that the main challenge of using more hydrogen in energy systems is the cost of producing, storing and transporting hydrogen.

He explained that while these challenges are not expected to be resolved overnight, the progress made in recent years has already far exceeded expectations.

With this in mind, the European Commission’s recent RePowerEU plan, which seeks to end the EU’s dependence on Russian natural gas as soon as possible, has set a target of 10 million tonnes of domestic renewable hydrogen production and 10 million tonnes of imports by 2030, to replace natural gas, coal and oil in hard-to-decarbonise industries and transport sectors. In addition, in order to accelerate hydrogen projects, additional funding of €200 million has been set aside for research.

“In other words, the green energy transition during the energy crisis is necessary and we must not take a single step back but move forward so that the existing EU energy system is transformed into a sustainable, technologically advanced and intelligent system, where the use of fossil fuels will initially be reduced and later eliminated by the transition to the hydrogen economy,” Poullikkas concluded.