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Green hydrogen is a key element of energy independence

Oleksandr Riepkin will be one of the speakers of the Budapest Hydrogen Summit, to be held on 10 March 2022.

Green hydrogen might not only be a solution to climate change but also reduce Ukraine’s dependence on energy from other countries and resources.

The whole world sees the too tense situation on the part of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Ukraine has always been dependent on the energy system of the CIS countries. Green hydrogen is our way out of this situation and I, together with the team of the Ukrainian Hydrogen Council, are taking all possible steps for the energy independence of our country. This is our key goal.

Gazprom’s gas blackmail, which has raised prices and threatened to leave European countries without gas is an example to all how energy dependence on Russia allows it to destabilise the entire energy market. Therefore, the transition to hydrogen must be accelerated.

Hydrogen has a chance to become the main source of energy for a green future. What about Ukraine?

Ukraine has significant natural potential for renewable energy production, which allows it to produce renewable hydrogen. The total potential of the average annual production of green hydrogen is about 505 billion cubic metres (bcm).

Due to such potential, the EU assigns Ukraine an important role in achieving the goals of the European Green Deal and has identified Ukraine as a priority partner in the EU’s Hydrogen Strategy. Moreover, Ukraine is included in the 2×40 gigawatts (GW) Green Hydrogen for a European Green Deal Initiative. According to it, by 2030, it is necessary to provide 80 GW of hydrogen production capacity using electrolysis technology, while in Ukraine, 10 GW of green hydrogen production capacity can be created.

The advantages of Ukraine are also its geographical location and gas transportation system (GTS), which is one of the largest in the world. These provide significant opportunities for green hydrogen export.

As we see, the Ukrainian GTS has found itself in an unstable state due to an agreement between the United States and Germany to complete the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. But thanks to the radical reform of the energy sector in the EU, new opportunities are opening up for the Ukrainian GTS.

Today, many companies are declaring their involvement in the creation of hydrogen ecosystems, so this topic is becoming a much more reliable prospect for attracting investment.

Promising opportunities of the Ukrainian gas transportation infrastructure for exporting hydrogen were also recognised by the European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB) industry initiative, which unites 23 EU gas infrastructure companies. The EHB group presented a vision of 39.7,000 kilometres of hydrogen pipeline infrastructure in 21 countries: 69 per cent of the proposed hydrogen network consists of adapting existing gas transmission networks and 31 per cent of new infrastructure is needed to connect new producers.

We are already ready to transport 10 per cent hydrogen concentration in a mixture with natural gas by the GTS. By 2024, subject to modernisation, the percentage may be higher. I know that the Gas Transmission System Operator of Ukraine has taken a serious step by signing a cooperation agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) on the development of infrastructure for the production, storage and distribution of green hydrogen throughout Ukraine.

The partnership is expected to promote large-scale production and use of green hydrogen in the country, as well as ensure a secure energy supply as Ukraine transitions to a renewable energy economy.

Also, the Transmission System Operators of Ukraine, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia – OGTSU, OGE, NET4GAS and EUSTREAM – are preparing to work together on the initiative to create a Central European Hydrogen Corridor.

Our energy independence and energy security are an integral part of the whole state. So, what is our vision for hydrogen development in Ukraine?

I see how decisively other countries are in the hydrogen perspective. Many countries have already completed hydrogen strategies and are operating at the national level.
Ukraine holds the solid long-term potential to produce large quantities of green hydrogen as a primary focus for European offtake compatibility.

In summer 2021, Ukraine has launched an elaboration of the strategy for the development of the hydrogen economy. According to the decree of the Prime Minister, the relevant working group was established under the Ministry of Energy. Unfortunately, the process of preparing the strategy took too long. Therefore, we, together with the team of the Ukrainian Hydrogen Council and the Institute of Renewable Energy of the NAS of Ukraine, prepared our draft strategy and presented it in December.

Our goal is to make hydrogen energy an important element of the new model of the Ukrainian energy system and, by 2050, to have a reputation as Europe’s hydrogen hub. Therefore, now we need not reduce the pace of RES construction, but at the same time carry out reforms in the energy sector, launch hydrogen pilot projects, develop a regulatory framework and a Guarantee of Origin scheme for green hydrogen.

Ukrainian companies are already studying aspects of hydrogen transportation and working on hydrogen projects. The Ukrainian Hydrogen Council makes every effort to promote the development of hydrogen technologies in Ukraine. I am confident that 2022 will bring new achievements in the development of the hydrogen economy.

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