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December 15, 2020

Summary of the PCHET 2020 Hydrogen Conference held on 28-29 September 2020 – part II.

Tomasz Pelc

I will begin part two of the PCHET 2020 Hydrogen Conference summary with legalities. We had an interesting debate hosted by Michał Sznycer (MGS Law), which led to some curious conclusions. To me, the most important one is that we should refrain from creating a special “hydrogen law” in favour of taking the currently effective laws and having them amended. And we have the fact that – ever since hydrogen became popular – more and more organisations and associations are wanting to become the hydrogen leader.
Please note that the Hydrogen Technology Cluster is (and will continue to be) the only Polish national organisation, which is a member of Hydrogen Europe in scope of Hydrogen Europe's Pillars. In 2019, the Hydrogen Technology Cluster developed a complete roadmap of legislative changes, the implementation of which will turn hydrogen into a fully-fledged alternative fuel in Poland. There will be NO HYDROGEN MARKET without these changes. Right now, the Ministry of Climate is starting everything from the beginning, which (unfortunately) leads to a waste of time. Perhaps it would be better to take advantage of the solutions already in place? This question was directed to the representative of the Ministry of Climate near the end of the debate. We will see what happens.
The discussion concerning hydrogen in public space was the first of its kind in Poland. Maciej Dębski skilfully moderated the discussion on hydrogen, its awareness, and safety matters. Both the discussion and the comments made throughout the entire conference confirm what I wrote in the first part of the summary – we are in need hydrogen and hydrogen technology education and awareness. We are already promoting hydrogen among students – during the conference, we presented the winners of our hydrogen contest, the students from Słupsk, who designed the model of a hydrogen-powered ship – but we are focusing mainly on developing programmes for purposes of hydrogen education for elementary and high school students, because this is their future. By the way, this may be our contribution to the development of hydrogen in Europe – there are no such initiatives at present time and everyone (see people involved in the matter of hydrogen in EU) is preaching that they are necessary. I encourage cooperation in this area as well.
The second day of the conference was concluded with the topic of good practices in Europe. In my opinion, this part and the part about technology during the first day were the most important contributions of our conference to building hydrogen awareness. Unfortunately, we were also shown the huge gap between European and Polish approaches to innovative projects. What we are missing is momentum and consideration of the future. All of the discussed projects have something important in common – bold decisions. By the way, I noticed that boldness pays off in both hydrogen and offshore wind. Those willing to take part in such projects with a well-planned operating strategy are successful – they are able to obtain funding for their projects without a problem. When it comes to hydrogen, we should focus on the approach to hydrogen presented in Groningen, Netherlands, and the approach to offshore wind in the Port of Ostend. I really want to write something about our approach to offshore wind energy, but I think that something will come up soon.
But back to the conference – I will say it again: when I say offshore wind, I’m supposed to mean hydrogen. And vice versa. (This must come to pass in Poland!) The hydrogen project in the Port of Emden is one of the projects being carried out in Western Europe. The aforementioned Port of Ostend initiated a project, which will see construction of a 17 MW hydrogen power plant. This will all happen within the next four years.
Over the past four years, I have been trying to get Polish ports to analyse a different business model in scope of powering their ports and terminals with consideration of the hazards and new opportunities. And what do I hear? It can’t be done, why fix something that’s not broken. Pretty soon we will have “green” tractor trailers driving off the “green” ships. Are we ready to handle them or will they have to go to other ports? We need a strong impulse, which will change the way we think. Hydrogen is a great excuse to start changing the way we think and our approach to strategic decisions – hydrogen is currently very popular (someone signs something in Poland every day) and hydrogen products are granted the highest funds in scope of projects financed by the EU. THIS IS THE TIME OF HYDROGEN.

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