On 15 December, the European Commission presented additional Fit for 55 proposals, including an “energy, climate and nature protection” package, and the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. Compared to the release of the first part of the package in July, the socio-economic and political context has changed considerably. The COP26 highlighted the importance to deliver socially-just and climate-ambitious proposals at a time when the critical limit of a temperature rise by 1.5ºC seems to be slipping away. Energy price hikes that severely affect EU citizens drew attention to the social effects of the energy transition, even if these are not directly related to decarbonisation efforts. The second part of the “Fit for 55” package was also seen as an opportunity to alleviate such concerns and at the same time accelerate a green and just transition.
The Commission proposes to recast the existing gas market rules which now mainly focus on natural gas to also cover renewable and low-carbon gases as well as hydrogen. This includes a regulation and a directive on the internal markets for renewable and natural gases and for hydrogen with new definitions of renewable and low-carbon gases (including hydrogen), their certification and common rules for injecting renewable and low-carbon gases into existing gas infrastructure.
With regards to the importance of hydrogen production and transport in several economic sectors, new rules for dedicated hydrogen networks are also part of the proposal, including adjusted rules regarding unbundling, third party access and tariffs. As think tank 3GE noted, the package should avoid any reference to the blending of hydrogen and fossil gas, which would risk supporting an inefficient use of hydrogen that should only be targeted to decarbonising end uses where no alternatives exist.
As regards the security of gas supply, as a lesson drawn from the current gas crisis, the Commission proposes different measures to enhance cooperation and resilience, including a voluntary joint procurement scheme for Transmission System Operators, including storage and their ownership in the national risk assessments.