Hydrogen Sector in Wallonia, Belgium Set to Thrive with EIB Partnership

Hydrogen Sector in Wallonia, Belgium Set to Thrive with EIB Partnership

(IN BRIEF) The Walloon Region has signed a memorandum of understanding with the European Investment Bank (EIB) to foster collaboration in the hydrogen sector. The agreement will enable Walloon projects to be eligible for EIB support, including financing, guidance, and advice. The EIB typically covers up to 50% of project costs through loans. This new partnership strengthens the existing ties between the EIB and Wallonia, which had already supported a number of hydrogen projects. The partnership will provide significant financial support to this emerging sector, which has already received €88 million in funding from the Walloon Region through the recovery plan for Europe. These important projects of common European interest (IPCEI) will establish Wallonia as a leading player in the hydrogen sector in Europe and worldwide.

(PRESS RELEASE) LUXEMBOURG, 13-Apr-2023 — /EuropaWire/ —The European Investment Bank (EIB), the lending arm of the European Union, represented by Vice-President Kris Peeters, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Walloon Region represented by Minister-President Elio Di Rupo, Vice-President and Minister for the Economy Willy Borsus, Vice-president and Energy Minister Philippe Henry, and Minister for Finance Adrien Dolimont. The agreement aims to foster collaboration between the EIB and Wallonia in the field of hydrogen.

EIB Vice-President Kris Peeters said: “The EIB’s goal is to accelerate the transition from a carbon-intensive economy to a more sustainable and climate-resilient low-carbon economy. It is therefore fully committed to supporting this transformation through a balanced and socially just approach. This is why the EIB has decided to increase its share of financing for projects that support climate and environmental objectives to 50% by 2025. In addition to financing, the EIB provides technical and financial support to determine financing needs and improve the bankability of projects.”

Under this agreement, Wallonia’s hydrogen projects may be eligible for EIB support, which includes financing, advice, and guidance. Typically, the EIB covers up to 50% of the cost of a project via loans. This new partnership further strengthens the close ties between the EIB and Wallonia.

According to the Walloon ministers, “Hydrogen is a vital resource for the energy transition and is a key driver of medium and long-term climate policy. When it comes to developing the potential of hydrogen, Wallonia hopes to become a major European player. This is why the region has sought out a number of hydrogen-related projects and initiatives, financed mostly through its recovery plan.”

Prior to this agreement, Wallonia had already made significant progress in the hydrogen sector by supporting a range of projects. The partnership with the EIB will provide substantial financial support to this emerging sector, which is why important projects of common European interest (IPCEI) have already received €88 million of backing from the Walloon Region through the recovery plan for Europe. These projects will place Wallonia on the map as a leader in hydrogen, both in Europe and globally.

Wallonia has made significant progress on various hydrogen projects, including Columbus and John Cockerill Hydrogen. Columbus, an IPCEI project, involves ENGIE Electrabel, Carmeuse, and John Cockerill collaborating on a water electrolysis unit that produces hydrogen for the biomethanation process, while John Cockerill aims to build a large electrolyser manufacturing plant with the necessary equipment and expertise in Belgium. Both projects are set to create 250 full-time equivalent jobs in the hydrogen and decarbonization sector. Wallonia is also working with universities and research centers to transfer knowledge and has launched the E-WallonHY project to develop a green hydrogen economy in Wallonia. This agreement marks a significant milestone in the structural development of the hydrogen industry in Wallonia, a key element in the energy transition.

Under the agreement, the EIB will collaborate with the Walloon government to identify market needs and gaps, and eligible projects, in addition to exchanging information and knowledge on the hydrogen sector to better understand its challenges and main financing issues. The EIB will also explore more complex financing structures and evaluate financing for cleaner projects in the region, aiming to play a significant role in building a low-carbon future in Wallonia and supporting a green and competitive economy. The possibility of providing technical assistance to better identify priority investments will be assessed at the request of the Walloon government.

Wallonia is aiming to create an environment that facilitates the implementation of projects and initiatives in the Walloon strategic hydrogen plan, strengthen cooperation with the EIB, and identify projects of strategic importance that could receive EIB advisory support, technical assistance, or financing. To attract private sector investment, they plan to minimize public funding and make projects bankable using support mechanisms. Wallonia is also inviting the EIB to participate in the financing of relevant projects that cannot be covered by the regional budget and explore national and regional financing programs, framework loan co-financing opportunities, and possible new resources. They are also exploring ways to combine other EIB financing with regional and EU funds, including a potential Walloon hydrogen fund. Wallonie Entreprendre (WE) has been appointed as the intermediary for Wallonia in the cooperation agreement.


Tim Smit
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SOURCE: European Investment Bank


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