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504 hydrogen production sites identified, CEE must work on transport and storage infrastructure

Clean hydrogen is set to play a critical role in mitigating global warming and its effects on human societies and ecosystems. Hydrogen Europe released the 2022 edition of its Clean Hydrogen Monitor, aiming to provide facts and figures on the current hydrogen market in Europe, the industry’s ambitions, the policy and funding landscape, as well as the supply capacity of some critical raw materials.

“This third edition of Hydrogen Europe’s Clean Hydrogen Monitor provides a window for stakeholders into the ins and outs of the sector’s development in Europe,” said Stephen Jackson, Chief Technology and Market Officer for Hydrogen Europe. “We hope you will find it useful as we continue to work towards our common goals. The time is now for the deployment of European hydrogen projects. We must turn our hydrogen plans from pipe dreams to pipelines, and we must do it fast.”

In total, 504 hydrogen production sites have been identified as being in operation in Europe by the end of 2020, with a total production capacity of 11.5 Million tonnes (Mt) per year. Among the largest producers there is Poland (1.03 Mt/year) which, together with Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and France account for 55 per cent of the total hydrogen production capacity of the EU. Other countries from Central and Eastern Europe were also included in the list, led by Greece (0.39 Mt/year), Lithuania (0.27 Mt/year) and Hungary (0.26 Mt/year). Czechia comes last (0.13 Mt/year) while in Slovenia the production of hydrogen is non-existent. Indeed, there is still a huge gap between the best- and the worst-performing countries.

Overall, the report found that the conventional production methods of reforming, partial oxidation, gasification and so on, represented 95.7 per cent of the total capacity. Whilst, reforming with carbon capture contributed only to 0.5 per cent of the total hydrogen production.

Hydrogen transport and storage infrastructure will play a major role in developing the hydrogen economy. Although pipelines are the cheapest way to transport hydrogen, refurbishing or building new infrastructure will require time. Moreover, pipelines only make sense for a certain distance. Within europe the longest pipelines are located in Germany and in Belgium with 400 kilometres and 600 kilometres, respectively. In total, Europe has about 1,800kilometres of pipeline, which underlines again the disparity between countries.

The CEE region is put again on the map when it comes to storage technologies like salt caverns that are located in Albania, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania and Poland. However, the most comprehensive tool so far identified is the hydrogen backbone initiative which envisages five large-scale pipeline corridors, crossing all Central and Eastern European countries.

Worldwide governments are adopting national strategies and Europe remains the continent with the most hydrogen strategies unveiled so far, following the EU Green Deal and the role played by hydrogen in decarbonising Europe.

In particular, the report mentioned Croatia which is expected to create a regional hydrogen centre to work on the expansion of the hydrogen economy in the CEE region. CEE countries also take centre stage when it comes to national policies for promoting sustainable transport via fuel cells electric vehicles. For example, there are a lot of purchase subsiseides in place to reduce the purchase price for customers in countries such as Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Poland, Romania and Slovenia. The amount varies significantly, with Romania leading the way with 10,000 euros of subsidies.

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