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European Hydrogen Backbone grows to meet REPowerEU’s 2030 hydrogen targets

The European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB) initiative has presented a promising solution to accelerate hydrogen adoption for greater energy security and meet renewable targets.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to a greater push to accelerate and scale up the adoption of decarbonised energy sources as highlighted in the REPowerEU statement, a plan to phase out Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels from Russia well before 2030.

Amongst other measures, REPowerEU introduces an update of its vision for a dedicated hydrogen transport ambition to reach an additional 15 million tonnes (Mt) of renewable hydrogen on top of the 5.6 Mt foreseen under Fit for 55, going beyond the targets of the EU’s hydrogen strategy

“With EHB, the participating infrastructure companies took a European perspective for upscaling hydrogen from the start,” said Daniel Muthmann, Chairman of the EHB initiative. “Going beyond just regional clusters and anticipating a Europe–wide hydrogen transportation infrastructure based on the existing gas infrastructure early on creates confidence for future market participants, access to various competitive supply sources and security of demand for project developers. The current geopolitical situation underlines how valuable Europe’s gas infrastructure is. It is a real asset in the transformation.”

The EHB has accelerated its programme from 2035 to 2030 with the aim to meet the REPowerEU targets. The accelerated EHB vision shows that by 2030, five pan-European hydrogen supply and import corridors with almost 28,000 kilometres of initial pipelines could emerge, connecting industrial clusters, ports and hydrogen valleys to regions of abundant demand – and laying the foundation for future large-scale hydrogen supply. The EHB’s vision is an adequate vehicle through which the EC’s 2030 ambition to promote the development of a 20.6 Mt renewable and low-carbon European hydrogen market could be realised.

The approximately 53,000 kilometres envisaged backbone by 2040 requires an estimated total investment of 80-143 billion euros based on using around 60 per cent of repurposed natural gas pipelines and about 40 per cent of new pipeline stretches, including subsea pipelines.

Transporting hydrogen over 1,000 kilometres along the proposed onshore backbone would on average cost 0.11-0.21 euros per kilogram of hydrogen, making the EHB the most cost-effective option for large-scale, long-distance hydrogen transport.

As reported by the EHB, the hydrogen transport routes and timelines in the maps are not set in stone. The final backbone design and timeline depend on market conditions for hydrogen and natural gas and the creation of a stable regulatory framework.

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