The European Union Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACR) released a study today (July 16) exploring the two main options for transporting hydrogen over long distances through pipelines across Europe.
With the European Commission’s hydrogen strategy acknowledging the future need for transporting hydrogen over long distances, building hydrogen carrying pipelines or repurposing exiting natural gas pipelines hold the most potential.
ACER has reviewed more than 20 studies focusing on the technical and cost aspects of repurposing existing gas infrastructure to pure hydrogen with the results outlined in the summary paper.
The paper additionally offers a reflection on the technical and hydrogen market conditions that could trigger the repurposing of natural gas pipelines to pure hydrogen.
From the investigation, repurposing the gas pipelines is feasible and cheaper than building pure hydrogen networks from scratch showcasing its potential.
Studies also draw attention to the suitability of salt cavern facilities for storing hydrogen noting that these facilities are geographically clustered in selected areas in a few EU member states.
The results also find that, similarly to natural gas, trucks and ships can also transport pure hydrogen however distance and volume are the main drivers determining the most cost-effective mode of transportation.
The study suggests that, currently, transporting liquefied hydrogen by ship is not cost-efficient.
Studies also offer divergent visions of the future extent of pure hydrogen networks.
The visions range from a large-scale, pan-European backbone transmission infrastructure primarily based on repurposed natural gas networks, to regional, cluster-like systems handling hydrogen supply and demand in closer geographic proximity.
Several studies conclude that, based on industrial hydrogen demand, technology and cost assumptions, there is no indication that a large-scale pan-European hydrogen network would be justified.
For this, repurposing pipelines to hydrogen could be conditional on several criteria.
This includes the presence of loop (parallel) lines in natural gas pipeline systems, so that at least one string could be repurposed to pure hydrogen, ensuring security of natural gas supply to consumers during the conversion phase to pure hydrogen, and hydrogen market uptake in the area serving a pure hydrogen corridor.
ACER and energy regulators will continue discussing the repurposing outlook and stand ready to exchange views with all stakeholders, with the goal of delivering on the decarbonisation targets, as well as ensuring cost-efficient and cost-effective solutions to the benefit of energy consumers.
You can read the summary paper here.
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