(Montel) A wave of investment in hydrogen infrastructure will follow revisions to the EU’s gas directive expected to be concluded by the end of the year, a key European Parliamentarian has told Montel.
“The gas market directive will be ready in November,” said Jens Geier, the European Parliament’s lead negotiator on revisions to the directive.
This would “absolutely” unleash investment decisions, Geier told Montel on the sidelines of a gathering of the German Association of Local Utilities (VKU) in Cologne on Tuesday.
“All the gas network operators I have talked to are waiting for this legislation to be concluded, because then it will be clear what they are allowed to do and what they are not allowed to do.”
The parliament and member states are in three-way negotiations with the European Commission over its proposals to align the gas industry with the bloc’s 2050 climate-neutrality goal.
They are seeking to agree rules for burgeoning technologies like hydrogen that are intended to supplant natural gas.
One of their key concerns is to make sure efforts to kickstart the industry still stick to the EU’s competition rules that keep suppliers separate from the delivery systems they use.
Unbundling threat averted
Geier – a German Social Democrat – had secured a carve-out from such unbundling rules of special importance to Germany and Austria, he said.
This boiled down to convincing member states and the EU executive to preserve a distinction between transmission system operators and distribution system operators.
Municipal utilities – more pervasive in Germany and Austria than the rest of the EU – would consequently be free to advance plans to convert their local gas networks to carry hydrogen without fear of pressure to unload them unprofitably in future, he said.
“The [trilogue] negotiations are still ongoing, so I can't say now that it has been finally settled. But since we have reached an agreement on this point, I don't think it will be revisited.”
Thuega – a network of 100 German municipal utilities – complained in June that the EC’s original proposals would have deterred its members from making investments in hydrogen by forcing them into a choice of unviable options.