Some opposition lawmakers warned of the commercial unprofitability of green hydrogen.
In recent years, Croatia has been making a great effort in decarbonising its energy sector and economy, its goal being to ensure that by 2030 at least 36.6 per cent of electricity consumption comes from renewable sources, said Ivo Milatić, state secretary at the Ministry of Economy.
A hydrogen-based economy is an important part of plans by EU member states towards a green energy transition, and the proposed strategy follows up on the EU hydrogen initiative, which Croatia signed in 2018, he said.
The proposal puts emphasis on renewable hydrogen, obtained by low-carbon emitting technologies. Some sectors of the Croatian economy have already expressed an interest in developing hydrogen technologies, which is why a government strategic document is needed to give direction to the development of hydrogen technologies, Milatić said.
Ljubica Maksimčuk of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) was interested in whether Croatia was ready for the first phase of the strategy, from 2020 to 2024, which aims to ensure the production of one million tonnes of renewable hydrogen.
“Croatia is ready for this. Under the National Recovery Plan, we have undertaken to install 10 refuelling stations over the next three years and finance a certain number of electrolysers,” Milatić said, adding that there was interest from hydrogen associations and private and public companies.
In response to a question put by Andreja Marić of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Milatić said that 60 public transport buses in Zagreb would switch to hydrogen use and that a hydrogen refuelling station would be installed for that purpose.
Vesna Vučemilović (Sovereignists) wanted to know why the proposed strategy gave priority to transport over industry and to green hydrogen, which she said would have to be subsidised because it was commercially unprofitable.
Milatić said that Croatia was rich in renewable energy sources and that it would not be wise to go any other way than green hydrogen. He, however, noted that they were aware that ample government subsidies would be necessary as long as this technology did not become cheaper.
Responding to a question from independent MP Hrvoje Zekanović about the price of a kilogram of hydrogen, Milatić said that its price currently ranged between 12 and 15 euro and that a car with six kilos of hydrogen in the tank can drive between 500 and 600 kilometres.
Marin Miletić (Bridge) said that the EU planned to invest about €500 billion in renewable energy sources by 2050 and Croatia more than HRK 70 billion (€9.3bn), which is equivalent to the cost of 17 Pelješac bridges. He asked Milatić where Croatia would get that money from.
Milatić said that conventional renewable energy sources, such as wind and sun, would require minimum or no state subsidies in the near future. “Our focus will be on small solar cells on houses and on new technologies, and among new technologies, hydrogen will dominate financially and in any other respect.”
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