Brussels, November 28 – The European Commission today opened the door to subsidies for a pipeline to transport blue hydrogen from Norway to Germany, which lead to more fossil gas being burned per year than Denmark, Ireland and Portugal’s combined annual consumption of gas.

The Commission published the sixth list of Projects of Common Interest (PCI), which entitles a set number of infrastructure projects to apply for a pot of EU funds worth €5.4bn.

Equinor’s pipeline would flood Europe with hydrogen made from fossil gas – also known as ‘blue hydrogen’ – produced at two large-scale facilities in Norway, one of which Equinor is planning to build, the other proposed by Shell. [1]

They would burn 13.7 billion cubic metres of fossil gas per year – more than Ireland, Denmark and Portugal’s annual consumption of fossil gas combined, and equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions of 15.5 million cars. [2,3]

Dominic Eagleton, senior fossil fuels campaigner at Global Witness, said: “Not only are Shell, Equinor and RWE plotting to lock Europe into a future of climate-wrecking fossil gas, but Equinor are on track to get public funds from the EU to make it happen. As the climate crisis deepens, the very least we should expect is for taxpayers’ money to not be wasted on fossil fuels – this project should be a non-starter. We urge the EU not to support it, and to avoid a broader build-out of costly hydrogen infrastructure without a proper assessment against cleaner energy alternatives.”

RWE, the German electricity producer, is also a key player in this hydrogen mega project. It plans to use the imported hydrogen to fuel what it claims are ‘hydrogen-ready’ power plants in Germany, but the company intends to switch the plants from fossil gas to hydrogen only “gradually.”

The European Commission’s Projects of Common Interest (PCI) list is revised every two years. Updated calculations by Global Witness show that over the past decade, the EU handed out €5 billion to fossil gas projects that have been included in the list. In 2020, Global Witness reported that fossil gas PCIs received €4.662 billion in EU grants and subsidised loans from 2014 to 2019.

The European Parliament and EU Member States now have two months to accept or reject the list.