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H2 Valley


The main H2 valley principles to be covered in the project are:

  1. Coverage of entire value chain: establish a complete local H2 ecosystem covering production, storage, distribution, refuelling and final use of H2;
  2. Demonstration of sector coupling: show how the use of H2 can enable sector coupling and in turn help large penetration of variable renewable power;
  3. Different FCH use cases: demonstrate different FCH use cases together in one coherent project;
  4. Integrated approach: link individual sub-projects to each other, show their systemic interaction in a distinct regional or local setup.

A significant portion of the hydrogen used in the project should be produced from renewable sources. The amount of renewable hydrogen can be lower at the start of the project, at least 75% of the volumes produced, but needs to target a level of 100% at the end of the project. The project shall aim at reducing by at least 50% the GHG emissions, as compared with the incumbent technologies [1].

Hydrogen should be produced out of low carbon and/or renewable electricity via electrolysis. Other industrial source and by-product could be also mixed as long as the carbon footprint meets the targets of the project.

“CertifHy Green H2“ guarantees of origin should be issued and cancelled through the CertifHy platform to ensure that the hydrogen production and consumption is of renewable nature.

At least three FCH applications from at least two different sectors should be part of the project. The following sectors and applications can be considered:

  1. Transport sector: Buses, cars (private cars and / or captive fleets such as taxis), delivery vans and small trucks, medium and heavy-duty trucks (also for long haul trips), specialty vehicles (like garbage trucks and sweepers), trains, waterborne applications (like boats/ships and port logistics), airborne applications (small and medium airplanes, drones and UAVs), material handling vehicles. Other transport applications are not excluded;
  2. Energy sector: Building heat and power, commercial/residential applications using FC-based CHP units, backup-power and electricity supply of critical infrastructure;
  3. Industrial applications: Industrial application valorizing low CO2 hydrogen, like refineries, steel industry, metallurgy, glass industry, ammonia or methanol production.

The volumes produced and distributed for the different applications should be consistent with the amount of investment considered. For the size of the project, it is expected that at least 1,500 tons per year or 5,000 kg/day hydrogen capacity is deployed. Similarly, each application should involve and consume at least 20% of the whole volumes or a minimum of 300 tons per year or 1 ton/day hydrogen.

Elements of already existing projects could be used to support the new H2-valley project, without being accounted as financial leverage of the project; however, it is requested that the coverage of three applications from two sectors should be shown with new installations.

The aim is developing, deploying and demonstrating replicable, balanced and integrated fuel cell and hydrogen-overarching solutions in both energy and transport fields, with the option of providing a hydrogen feedstock for industry through strong partnerships between municipalities, industries and academia. The project should be implemented in EU.

The replicability of the project is fundamental to facilitate further future deployments of H2 Valleys. The proposals should therefore address efforts to provide learnings how to best scale-up and transfer FCH solutions investigated within the H2 valley to other interested areas and regions. This should comprise also RCS issues.

To increase impact beyond the demonstration part of the project, the consortium should develop a long-term vision (roadmap) how to serve all energy needs from H2 and RES based on a local/regional H2 economy until 2050.

The TRL of the applications in the project should be at least 6 at the beginning of the project while the overall concept should target a TRL 8 at the end of the project.

Any safety-related event that may occur during execution of the project shall be reported to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) dedicated mailbox, which manages the European hydrogen safety reference database, HIAD and the Hydrogen Event and Lessons LEarNed database, HELLEN.

Test activities should collaborate and use the protocols developed by the JRC Harmonisation Roadmap (see section 3.2.B ""Collaboration with JRC – Rolling Plan 2019""), in order to benchmark performance of components and allow for comparison across different projects.

The maximum FCH 2 JU contribution that may be requested is EUR 20 million. This is an eligibility criterion – proposals requesting FCH 2 JU contributions above this amount will not be evaluated.

The consortium is strongly encouraged to identify and secure additional funding sources. Commitment of local authorities (Member States, Regions, Cities) is considered necessary and should be evidenced in the proposal in a form of letter of Interests (LOIs), to be followed by firm commitment before signature of the Grant Agreement. The proposal should therefore include a financing scheme describing the sources of co-funding/co-financing.

Applicants should demonstrate a clear and targeted business model. The funding requested shall be consistent with the economical gap to incumbent technologies.

A maximum of 1 project may be funded under this topic.

Expected duration: 6 years with at least 2-3 years of operation per application.

[1]: Incumbent technologies meaning fossil-based solutions widely spread in present economy.

Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies have been identified as key solutions for a significant reduction of green-house-gas emissions and energy consumption in the European Union. Hydrogen and fuel cells may also play an important role in sector coupling and sectorial integration. Within the context of a market-entry process for hydrogen technologies, the demonstration at large scale of sector coupling and sectorial integration is key to make a significant contribution to decarbonising the current energy system.

Since the beginning of the FCH JU in 2008, mainly individual demonstration projects have successfully shown the maturity and benefits of isolated FCH technologies, such as FCEVs, FC-buses and HRS. It is now necessary to introduce the next logical step towards market introduction, the building up of local and regional H2 value chains and integrated use of FCH technologies across different sectors and applications and so establish a ‘Hydrogen Valley’. A Hydrogen Valley is a defined geographical area, city, region or industrial area where several hydrogen applications are combined together and integrated within an FCH ecosystem. By linking individual projects and developing local H2 infrastructure, establishing H2 Valleys represents the next development stage towards a local H2 economy in the long term.

Sector coupling via hydrogen allows green energy from the electricity sector to be used for the decarbonisation of other sectors such as transport, building or industry by integrating several different hydrogen technologies within this ecosystem. Such an integration helps to simultaneously increase the share of renewables in the local energy mix, while providing power grid balancing. However, it is still not always and everywhere possible to provide sufficient amounts of renewable electricity at reasonable cost. Thus, H2 valley might need to use also hydrogen from fossil sources, such as hydrogen from natural gas reforming, to a certain extent. In that case, methods of producing hydrogen from fossil energy sources without emitting CO2 should be used. Another possibility could be the use of byproduct hydrogen. An increase of the portion of renewable hydrogen, especially from renewable electricity is one of the challenges the projects should find an answer.

Another challenge is the availability and sustainability of the solutions deployed in funded projects. Consortia should substantiate that the installed devices and applications (like FCEVs) will continue to be operated after the end of project funding. As a consequence, the operations are expected to remain economically viable after the end of the funded project, with a goal to continue the operation. The setup of a large-scale hydrogen hub and thus, reach the critical size where renewable hydrogen price and prices for applications can become more competitive is not easy to achieve.

Depending on the chosen applications, KPIs for each application should be defined and aligned with the MAWP targets.
The project should address the techno-economic objectives as defined in the Multi Annual Working Plan (MAWP) and in particular:

  • Showcase the versatility of hydrogen in the frame of the energy transition, the sectorial integration and the Local Hydrogen Economy based on multi and interconnected hydrogen usages within a given geographic area;
  • Show evidence of the GHG reduction potential of the H2-Valley via a Life Cycle Analysis; Identify the contribution of such concept in the EU 2030 GHG reduction targets;
  • Boost the introduction of hydrogen hubs based on large electrolysis or other CO2 neutral H2 production technologies, through the development of viable business models which in turn shall drive significantly the future development of FCH markets;
  • Increase/improve the integration and/or utilisation of renewable energy sources in the region and demonstrate savings by ‘doing with the existing’ infrastructure rather than expensive major upgrades;
  • Identify potential barriers, including RCS to creating a viable business model for implementing such a Hydrogen Valley across all regions of Europe and recommend possible solutions;
  • Create close links between all parties (technology providers, owners, operators, end-users, local authorities) with long-term ambitions and strategies;
  • Develop public awareness and acceptance of hydrogen technologies and create a ground for skills development;
  • Demonstrate the role of electrolysis for grid balancing services and local energy storage at a meaningful scale for the grid operator;
  • Show case at an unprecedented scale in EU, the concept of H2-valley and demonstrate the sustainability of the solution and of the business model associated.

Type of action: Innovation Action

The conditions related to this topic are provided in the chapter 3.3 and in the General Annexes to the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018– 2020 which apply mutatis mutandis.