Environmental sustainability of FCH systems is a key requirement in the path towards a hydrogen economy, with important effects on sectors such as renewable power generation, residential & industrial energy supply, and passenger & freight transport. In this regard, measuring the environmental sustainability of FCH systems from a life-cycle perspective has become a crucial need. To that end, guidelines for the environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of FCH systems have already been developed within the scope of JU-funded projects (e.g. FC-HyGuide and SH2E). As a natural step forward, state-of-the-art FCH-specific LCA guidelines should be used in combination with FCH product categorisation to develop related Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCRs) for subsequent Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) studies. According to the European Commission (C/2021/9332), PEFCRs are “product category specific, life cycle-based rules that complement general methodological guidance for PEF studies by providing further specification at the level of a specific product category. If a PEFCR exists, this should be used for calculating the environmental footprint of a product belonging to that product category”. Hence, PEFCRs aim to provide specific guidance for calculating products’ life-cycle environmental impacts with increased reproducibility, relevance, and consistency. Ultimately, the potential of this topic refers to an increased market penetration of FCH products thanks to their robust qualification as an environmentally sustainable investment according to the EU taxonomy.
Within this context, this topic addresses the development and application of a set of thorough PEFCRs in the specific field of FCH products according to the latest version of the European Commission’s guidance document for the development of PEFCRs, thereby considering the latest recommendations as regards the PEF method. Accordingly, the main project outcome of the topic will consist of PEFCRs developed for, and applied to, FCH product categories (cf. Section “Scope” for further details).
Project results are expected to contribute to all the following expected outcomes:
While specifically addressing the environmental dimension of sustainability, project results are expected to contribute to the following objective of the Clean Hydrogen JU SRIA:
In addition to the objective above, project results are expected to contribute to the following objectives:
Moreover, at the programme level, the project is expected to contribute to the objective of “limiting the environmental impact of hydrogen technology applications” by facilitating a sound measure of key performance indicators (KPIs) in terms of environmental impacts (including, among others, greenhouse gas emissions).Scope:
While PEFCRs have already been developed for several product categories (e.g., rechargeable batteries, photovoltaic modules, thermal insulation products in buildings, etc.), no PEFCRs are available for FCH product categories. In this context, and given the momentum of FCH systems, the prompt development and application of the first PEFCRs specific to FCH product categories should be conducted.
As regards scope, the proposals should develop PEFCRs for at least 3 FCH product categories and apply them to at least 3 case studies within each product category (i.e., at least three sets of PEFCRs in total and at least nine case studies in total). The hydrogen chain coverage attained by the set of FCH product categories should be as comprehensive as possible, including at least one product category relevant to hydrogen production, one relevant to hydrogen final use, and one relevant to another step (e.g., distribution or storage). The robust measurement and reporting of the environmental performance of FCH products should ultimately contribute to enhanced market penetration of FCH solutions.
Considering the general procedure for the development of PEFCRs, the project should involve:
According to the goal and scope of the topic, the expected consortium should involve experts in the field of LCA and PEF, while a significant engagement of industrial stakeholders relevant to the concerned FCH product categories is needed too.
The JU estimates that an EU contribution of maximum EUR 1.50 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately.
The conditions related to this topic are provided in the chapter 184.108.40.206 of the Clean Hydrogen JU 2023 Annual Work Plan and in the General Annexes to the Horizon Europe Work Programme 2023–2024 which apply mutatis mutandis.
Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules Guidance, European Commission, May 2018
C/2021/9332 Annex 1, European Commission, 2021