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Poland prepares to make a big push for hydrogen

As the European Commission adopted its long-awaited hydrogen strategy yesterday, Poland also announced to take some important steps regarding its own hydrogen agenda, by signing a letter of intent with the major energy and transport companies on the Polish market.

“Building a hydrogen economy is a great challenge for our enterprises and scientific institutions,” emphasised Minister of Climate, Michał Kurtyka. “Companies that today have signed a letter of intent with the Minister of Climate regarding the construction of a hydrogen economy have a chance to become leaders of this market both in Poland and in the European Union.”

Signatories of the agreement include leaders of the Polish energy market such as GAZ-SYSTEM, PGNiG, PKN ORLEN and Grupa LOTOS, who declared to cooperate on research and development of hydrogen technologies in various sectors of the economy.

According to the estimates of the Ministry of Climate, the development of the hydrogen sector in the next decade may significantly contribute to Poland’s reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants into the atmosphere, in particular from the transport sector.

The strategic objective of the dedicated strategy is to create a value chain for a low-carbon hydrogen economy in Poland.

Companies are on board

While governments started to raise their ambitions, Polish energy companies also recognised that there’s an underlying potential in hydrogen and many of them already extended their business portfolio to include hydrogen technologies.

Just a month ago, Poland’s dominant gas firm PGNiG announced the launch of a comprehensive hydrogen program consisting of several projects, from the production of green hydrogen through its storage and distribution, as well as its utilisation in the transport sector.

Sate-owned oil refiner and petrol retailer PKN ORLEN announced recently to build a hydrogen hub in Włocławek by the end of next year producing up to 600 kilograms of purified hydrogen per hour. ORLEN’s project provides for the construction of a plant for the production of fuel-cell grade hydrogen, logistics infrastructure and hydrogen refuelling stations.

Grupa LOTOS obtained EU funding to construct hydrogen purification and distribution units and two hydrogen refuelling points in Gdańsk and Warsaw. These stations to be built by 2021 will be part of the Blue Trail (Niebieski Szlak), which already consists of twelve chargers for electric cars.

Polenergia, the largest Polish private, vertically integrated energy group teamed up with Siemens Energy to develop solutions that enable sustainable production and use of hydrogen.

“Existing projects, while important, are insufficient to create a hydrogen economy in Poland,” a spokesperson of the government told CEENERGYNEWS. “Hydrogen technologies in Poland can only develop if its use in both energy and transport is supported. In the face of this market failure, a joint effort by both private and public entities is needed.”

Poland considers other options besides green hydrogen

Hydrogen can be produced from many sources. The EU’s recently announced strategy gives priority to the development of renewable hydrogen, produced using mainly wind and solar energy. However, it also acknowledges that in the short and medium-term other forms of low-carbon hydrogen are needed to rapidly reduce emissions and support the development of a viable market.

“In order to support the growing branch of the hydrogen industry, Poland is interested in developing various methods of obtaining hydrogen that will give positive economic and environmental effects in the future,” continued the government’s spokesperson.

“The proposed solutions should be technologically neutral and at this point, it is not recommended to support only hydrogen that has been produced from renewable sources,” the spokesperson said adding that when assessing the efficiency of using hydrogen from renewable energy sources, apart from ecological effects, the analysis of production costs and benefits, as well as the availability of resources, should be taken into account.

“Today in Poland, hydrogen production is based on sustainable demand based on current industrial applications,” the spokesperson highlighted. “This demand can later be used to introduce the production of blue or green hydrogen (based on biogas plants, renewable energy, nuclear power plants or CCS/CCU technologies).”

The Polish hydrogen strategy is currently under preparation in the Ministry of Climate. In autumn this year, it will be sent to public consultations, and by the end of the year it will be forwarded to the Council of Ministers for consideration

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