The Slovak gas transmission system operator (TSO) EUSTREAM is preparing its network for transporting renewable and low-carbon gasses. The company plans adjustments that will make its network technologically ready for blending up to 5 per cent of hydrogen into the transported natural gas, as early as the end of 2023.
With the current volumes of natural gas transmission, Slovakia will be soon technologically ready to transport theoretically more than 2 billion cubic metres (bcm) of hydrogen per year and thus accommodate the expected gradual increase in hydrogen supply and demand.
“So far our key network development priority has been the diversification of routes and building interconnections with neighbouring countries,” said Director General of EUSTREAM Rastislav Ňukovič. “This will be fulfilled once the last missing interconnection – the new Poland-Slovakia Gas Interconnection is completed. In the new phase of the network development, our primary focus is to get ready for the low-carbon economy and support European climate ambitions. Our latest initiative allows us to be soon technologically ready for hydrogen blending up to 5 per cent of the volume transported. We believe that this can provide a significant stimulus to promote the development of hydrogen capacities in the region.”
The company also plans to develop its own photovoltaic plant to produce green hydrogen in its premises and then use it for fuelling compressors, a unique move among TSOs. The first pilot project to decarbonise own operations is planned for the Veľké Kapušany compressor station, with expected hydrogen production in 2023.
In further development, EUSTREAM will utilise the unique advantage of the Slovak transmission network, which consists of several parallel pipelines connecting Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and, in the near future, Poland.
As a member of the European Hydrogen Backbone initiative, Eustream plans to dedicate part of the transmission network only for the transport of 100 per cent hydrogen. The modernised corridor of several parallel pipelines will allow the combined transport of natural gas and hydrogen, depending on the actual development of demand and hydrogen capacities.