EU Commission publishes ‘PCI List’ with hydrogen infrastructure costing over €50 billion

Important climate, supply and demand questions remain unanswered 

Brussels, 28 November – The EU PCI list published by the EU Commission today is heavily titled towards large-scale hydrogen transport projects backed by the fossil fuel industry – raising serious concerns about the high costs and limited climate benefits of the projects due to leaks, fossil-based hydrogen and failure of the CCS technology which is needed to generate ‘blue’ hydrogen. 

The PCI list, also called ‘Union list of projects of common interest and projects of mutual interest’, includes 68 hydrogen transport and storage projects, which is in stark contrast to only 17 electrolyser projects that would generate hydrogen. 

All of the hydrogen transport projects on the list were submitted by the fossil gas industry. This comes as little surprise, given the revised TEN-E regulation failed to address the blatant conflict of interest built into the selection rules for Projects of Common and Mutual Interest (PCIs and PMIs). According to the regulation, ENTSO-G, the European network of the fossil gas transport industry, has a central role in assessing the projects and generating scenarios for infrastructure needs. Over three quarters of the projects on the final draft list were submitted by ENTSO-G members, the very same organization involved in making the PCI List selection rules.

Projects included on the PCI list are considered ‘top EU priority’, benefit from accelerated permitting procedures and might receive public funding.

A Food & Water Action Europe analysis based on industry information from the latest Ten-Year-Network-Development-Plan for gas shows that building the 68 hydrogen transport projects on the list alone would cost at least €50 billion, with further €22 billion operation costs in the next 20 years. Given a third of the projects have been submitted without public cost figures, the cost for building and operating all 68 hydrogen transport projects could amount to up to €100.

These costly projects have not been subject to any independent climate impact assessment, nor to a detailed assessment of infrastructure needs for scarce, costly hydrogen flows to priority uses only. 

The EU risks supporting the build-out of an oversized, inefficient and unneeded hydrogen grid at the request of the fossil gas lobby. Instead of helping the gas transport industry sustain their business model via hydrogen, we need an infrastructure plan adapted to realistic uses and supply of hydrogen, and to exclude all projects transporting fossil fuel-based hydrogen”, said Frida Kieninger, Director of EU-Affairs at Food & Water Action Europe.

The PCI list will now be submitted to the EU Parliament and the Council for scrutiny in the form of a delegated act. The Council and the European Parliament can tacitly or explicitly approve the delegated act, or reject it, which will happen in early 2024.