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Poland needs comprehensive hydrogen potential analysis, says think-tank

Poland is among the leading EU countries in terms of hydrogen production, the think-tank Polish Economic Institute noted in a report published on Wednesday (3 January). However, the think-tank has urged stakeholders to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the country’s hydrogen potential to streamline future investments.

In 2022, the global demand for hydrogen reached 95 million tonnes, with less than 1 million tonnes produced through electrolysis with renewables or using carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology. In the same year, the EU produced 7.5 million tonnes of hydrogen. By 2030, green or low-emission hydrogen is anticipated to be a significant element in the energy transformation, the think-tank noted in a press release.

Europe set for a hydrogen thirst

According to the International Energy Agency, the demand for low-emission hydrogen will be four times greater than the total demand in 2022 by 2050, reaching 400 million tonnes. The largest demand in 2050 is estimated to come from the aviation and maritime sectors (116 million tonnes), electricity production (75 million tonnes), and the chemical sector (70 million tonnes).

The use of hydrogen and ammonia is also estimated to gradually rise in the power sector, serving as a low-emission stabiliser for the system, the think-tank noted in the report.

“Hydrogen technologies will be developed in heavy transport, including the bus and public transportation industry. In the industry, the main recipients of hydrogen will remain entities currently using grey hydrogen, produced from fossil fuels, and who will need to undergo decarbonisation. This includes the refinery, chemical, and steel sectors, as well as industries where electrification is costly or impractical,” said Adam Juszczak, an advisor at the Polish Economic Institute.

Poland among the top three hydrogen producers in the EU

Poland is one of the three largest hydrogen producers in the EU, just behind Germany and the Netherlands. It produces approximately 1.3 million tonnes annually, accounting for over 13 per cent of the annual EU hydrogen production.

Most of this production is grey hydrogen, mainly derived from the steam reforming of hydrocarbons in industrial plants, mainly used in the chemical, refinery, food and metallurgical industries. Nevertheless, demand for the resource is increasing.

According to the European Hydrogen Observer, hydrogen demand in Poland has exceeded 784,000 tonnes annually, with the majority used in the oil refining process and ammonia production, constituting over 96 per cent of total demand. The use in the transport sector (hydrogen mobility) was only 13.8 tonnes annually.

“Poland needs to increase investments in research on hydrogen technologies to keep up with the growing importance of this sector internationally, especially regarding electrolysis with renewable energy sources. In 2022, only 3.1 per cent of public spending on research in the energy sector in Poland focused on hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, while in other IEA member countries, this percentage was over 12 per cent,” said Marcelina Pilszyk, an analyst at the Polish Economic Institute.

Polish Hydrogen Strategy needs updating

In the report, the think-tank urged the new government to update Poland’s 2021 National Hydrogen Strategy due to the recent geopolitical shifts that have taken place since the document was published.

Aside from increasing investments in research and development and building a closer support network with Polish academia, the Polish Economic Institute highlighted the need to prioritise setting national targets for green hydrogen production and determining the increased power needed for electrolysis by 2030 and 2040.

Conducting a quantitative analysis of the demand for new hydrogen production capacities would streamline investment planning in the power sector, the think-tank said in the report. An analysis of Poland’s capacity for hydrogen production is also needed, according to the Polish Economic Institute.

“A key recommendation is to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the potential for hydrogen production and utilisation in Poland. Based on the results of this analysis, optimal locations for future hydrogen valleys can be identified, allowing the concentration of key elements of the supply chain and reducing hydrogen transport costs,” said Mr Adam Juszczak. “Additionally, a thorough analysis of infrastructure needs, hydrogen storage potential, and the possibility of repurposing existing gas infrastructure for hydrogen transmission is essential.”

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