Roadmap for Europe's Hydrogen Future

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Roadmap for Europe's Hydrogen Future

Fri, 04/16/2021 - 13:03
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 Hydrogen molecules (copyright by Shutterstock/Anusorn Nakdee)
Hydrogen molecules (copyright by Shutterstock/Anusorn Nakdee)

The European Hydrogen Backbone, aptly named as its pipeline network of nearly 40,000-km connecting 21 European countries, gives the hydrogen initiative the substance necessary for sustained growth.

Some 69 percent of the proposed hydrogen network consists of repurposed existing natural gas grids.  The remaining 31 percent will be brand new pipelines needed to connect new off-takers and built in countries with small gas grids, yet with high expected future hydrogen demand and supply.

The envisaged backbone requires an investment of €43-81bn, with the investment cost per kilometer of pipeline lower than previously estimated because the future grid will also include pipelines with a diameter smaller than 48 inches.  Smaller pipelines are cheaper to repurpose while leading to somewhat higher transport cost per kilometer. Transporting hydrogen over 1,000 km would on average cost €0.11-0.21 per kg of hydrogen, making the EHB a cost-effective option for long-distance hydrogen transportation.

An enduring regulatory framework is a pre-condition for the success of the hydrogen backbone:  the hydrogen infrastructure maps for 2030, 2035 and 2040 published today reflect the vision of 23 European gas TSOs, based on their analysis of how infrastructure could evolve to meet decarbonisation targets.  “Europe needs to rapidly develop dedicated hydrogen pipeline infrastructure. This new EHB report shows a clear roadmap of how this could work”, says Prof. Ad van Wijk, author of the 2×40 GW Electrolyser Plan and advisor to Hydrogen Europe.


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