In the framework of the proposed Net-Zero Industry Act1, which was announced by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in Brussels yesterday (16 March 2023), electrolysers and fuel cells are included on a list of ‘net-zero technologies’ for which the Commission intends to support manufacturers based in the European Union. The Commission’s proposal is welcomed by the partners of PACE – an EU-funded project that has contributed to strengthening Europe’s manufacturing capacity in the domain of fuel cells.

The European Commission wants to reduce the EU’s dependence on imported technology by ensuring that the EU can meet at least 40% of its own needs when it comes to manufacturing those ‘net-zero technologies’ that it considers ‘strategic’. The technologies on the list – including electrolysers and fuel cells – have been identified as making a significant contribution to meeting the EU’s targets for reducing emissions of greenhouse gases in order to protect the world’s climate.

The PACE2 project is a €90 million public-private partnership which was set up in 2016 with the aim of growing the market for Fuel Cell micro-cogeneration in Europe. Within the framework of this project, the participating manufacturers have sold and installed more than 2,500 highly efficient Fuel Cell micro-CHP3 units which are generating electricity and heat for homes and businesses.

The PACE project is coordinated by COGEN Europe, the European Association for the Promotion of Cogeneration. The participating manufacturers are: BDR Thermea, BOSCH, SolydEra (previously known as SOLIDpower), Sunfire and Viessmann. The consortium also includes three research partners: Element Energy (part of the ERM Group), DTU (Technical University of Denmark) and HSLU (Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Switzerland).

Around 37% of the total funding for the PACE project comes from the European Union’s Clean Hydrogen Partnership4, and the remaining costs are covered by the participating manufacturers.

“As coordinators of the PACE project and on behalf of the PACE consortium, we welcome the recognition of fuel cells as a strategic net-zero technology that can make a significant contribution to decarbonisation,” says Hans Korteweg, Managing Director of COGEN Europe. “Fuel cells have many applications, and the PACE project has shown that they can be used to provide electricity and heat for various types of buildings in a way that is highly efficient and supports the resilience of the energy system as a whole.”

“We see a significant potential for fuel cell micro-CHP in the coming years as a means to further decarbonise buildings by making the most efficient use of renewable gases and clean hydrogen – as these become more widely available,” insists Mr Korteweg.

“During the last few years, the companies involved in PACE have invested massively in establishing state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities here in Europe,” continues Mr Korteweg. “Additional support for the fuel cell sector, including in the framework of the Net-Zero Industry Act, could potentially lead to the creation of thousands of highly skilled and well-paid jobs in the EU.”

The PACE partners are hosting a Policy Conference and Final Event on Wednesday 26 April 2023

What Role for Fuel Cell micro-CHP in Europe’s Future Energy System?

This event will take place at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Brussels (Rue de la Régence 3) from 10:00 until 16:45 (followed by a Networking Reception and Exhibition). The whole event is free of charge, and you are welcome to attend either in person or online. For those attending in person, a light lunch will be provided.

For more information on the programme and how to register – please see the event page.


1. See the Press Release published by the European Commission on 16 March 2023.

2. PACE stands for ‘Pathway to a Competitive European Fuel Cell micro-CHP Market’.

3. Micro-CHP of mCHP stands for ‘micro combined heat and power’, which is also known as micro-cogeneration. This term describes systems that generate both electricity and heat using a single energy source. According to the definition laid down in the EU Directive on energy efficiency (2012/27/EU), a ‘micro-cogeneration unit’ is a cogeneration unit with a maximum electrical output of less than 50 kW.

4. The PACE project has received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking (now Clean Hydrogen Partnership) under grant agreement No 700339. The Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe Research.