In 2018 Romania signed the Hydrogen Initiative. By signing this proposal, Romania committed to continuing research and innovation into how it will use hydrogen as an energy source for the future. Hydrogen and its associated technologies are being explored for use in the electricity storage sector, the transport sector and in industry.
According to the Integrated National Plan in the field of Energy and Climate Change 2021-2030 (“PNIESC”), submitted to the European Commission in April 2020, Romanian authorities are considering the implementation of a number of pilot and demonstration projects to promote the use of hydrogen in the production of electricity and in the industrial sectors.
In order to promote decarbonisation and the adoption of these new technologies, there will need to be a consolidation of the legal framework, intensifying dedication to research and innovation (in both state-owned and private companies), increasing and diversifying funding sources and developing educational resources, as well as supporting projects that promote the increased use of hydrogen.
Energy & Industry
At present, hydrogen is used mainly in the chemical industry, specifically in refineries and for ammonia production. In Romania there are currently 13 industrial producers of hydrogen (all from fossil fuels), and the hydrogen market comprises of two main types of players: captive producers, which produce hydrogen for their direct customers or their own use; and by-product hydrogen resulting from chemical processes, the chlor-alkali industry.
The Societatea Națională de Gaze Naturale Romgaz SA Mediaș (“Romgaz”), the largest natural gas producer in Romania, plans to build an electricity plant that will integrate hydrogen into the production of electricity through a 200MW natural gas power plant in Turnu Severin – Halanga.
In June 2020, Romgaz and Liberty Galați, the largest integrated steel plant in the country, signed a memorandum for the construction of a gas plant alongisde wind and solar PV capacities. The aim of the €1.2 billion project is to develop greenfield investment projects, specifically the development of natural gas-fired electricity generation and hydrogen, to be used by the steel plant. The investment should make the Galati steel plant carbon-neutral by 2030.
Research and education
Several public universities and research institutes in Romania are involved in hydrogen and fuel cell research and development. In particular, a number of projects are conducting intensive investigations on various issues related to hydrogen energy, particularly in relation to hydrogen storage. Public funding for the research and development of hydrogen is available through the Executive Unit for the Financing of Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation (“UEFISCDI”) subordinated to the Ministry of Education and Research. From public estimations, Romanian research authorities have spent more than €20 million for hydrogen and fuel cell related research since 2000.
The National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Centre (“ICSI”) develops and implements projects on new technologies (including hydrogen projects). The ICSI was a partner to the HyUnder project and has collaborated with the Joint Technology Initiative on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Research Group and N.ERGY Group.
In 2012, the Romanian Association for Hydrogen Energy (“AEHR”) was founded. The AEHR aims to support actions related to the hydrogen economy and fuel cells, as well as the infrastructure and renewable energy associated with them. This will be achieved through: technology transfer, promoting Romanian contributions, close cooperation with international and national associations, supporting the implementation of educational policies and research and the promotion of education.
The “Choose Renewable Hydrogen” initiative currently includes companies and associations which are also active in Romania, such as EDP, Enel, Iberdrola, MHI Vestas. The initiative is expected to develop renewable hydrogen projects under the scope of the European Green Deal.