A group of eleven European gas infrastructure companies, including Czech gas transmission system operator NET4GAS, have presented a plan for a dedicated hydrogen transport infrastructure.
The announcement follows the Hydrogen Strategy unveiled by the European Commission earlier in July.
“We are glad to see the European Commission’s ambitious strategy to scale up hydrogen, already starting in this decade and we think our initiative can play an important role in facilitating this,” said Daniel Muthmann, Head of Strategy, Policy and Communication at OGE, one of the largest European gas transmission system operators.
The signatories foresee a network gradually emerging from the mid-2020s onwards to an initial 6,800 kilometres pipeline network by 2030, connecting hydrogen valleys. By 2040, a hydrogen network of 23,000 kilometres is foreseen, 75 per cent of which will consist of converted natural gas pipelines, connected by new pipeline stretches (25 per cent).
Ultimately, two parallel gas transport networks will emerge: a dedicated hydrogen and a dedicated (bio)methane network. The hydrogen network can be used for large-scale hydrogen transport over longer distances in an energy-efficient way, also taking into consideration hydrogen imports.
“A European Hydrogen Backbone provides the opportunity to make large potential EU hydrogen supplies available to various demand sectors emerging during the energy transition,” Mr Muthmann continued. “It is essential for a future EU hydrogen market. We recognise that the hydrogen backbone must become a truly European undertaking with strong links going towards Eastern Member States.”
Concerning the Central and Eastern European region, the Czech gas transmission system has three major branches consisting of double or even triple pipelines. The system offers the possibility to dedicate one of these pipelines to hydrogen. By 2030, it is not expected that any major part of the transmission system could become available for pure hydrogen transport. The first assets (the western Gazelle pipeline) could become available in 2035 and onwards and can offer an efficient connection between north and south Germany.
Even with the shift from natural gas to hydrogen, the Czech Republic is expected to remain predominantly a transit country. By 2040, one of the pipelines on the northern branch could become available for pure hydrogen transport and it can connect Germany to Slovakia and serve as (one of) the entry point(s) to central Europe. Due to the system reversibility, the Czech Republic could also become an entry point for hydrogen sourced at distance eastern markets.