13 April, 2021

Press release: Joint European vision for hydrogen infrastructure connects 21 countries

Joint European vision for a 39 700 km hydrogen pipeline infrastructure in 21 countries is presented in new report.

  • Two-thirds of the network is based on repurposed natural gas pipelines, while in Sweden dedicated hydrogen pipelines will have to be built from scratch.
  • Lower investment cost per kilometer of pipeline compared to previous estimate.
  • In Sweden the development of the hydrogen grid is built from networks connecting industrial demand centers and larger cities.

Today, the European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB) initiative presents an updated version of its vision for a dedicated hydrogen transport infrastructure across Europe. The group proposes a hydrogen network of 39 700km by 2040, with further growth expected after 2040. This grid connects 21 European countries. The vision launched today follows the EHB report published in July 2020, which sparked a debate across Europe. That report described a network of 23 000 km covering ten countries.

A joint European vision that supports the EU hydrogen strategy, show how we can connect the energy system to ramp up the decarbonization, says Hans Kreisel, CEO Nordion Energi. – In Sweden we for example have industries in mining and steel where hydrogen will be key in the transition.

Two-third share repurposed pipelines

Some 69% of the proposed hydrogen network consists of repurposed existing natural gas grids. The remaining 31% newly built pipelines are needed to connect new off-takers and are located in countries with small gas grids today, yet with high expected future hydrogen demand and supply.

Lower investment costs per kilometre of pipeline

The almost 40 000 km envisaged 2040 backbone requires an estimated total investment of €43-81bn. The investment per kilometre of pipeline is lower compared to last year’s EHB report because the previous report only included cost estimates for pipelines with a diameter of 48 inch, while the present report takes into account that a large part of today’s natural gas infrastructure and of tomorrow’s hydrogen infrastructure consists of smaller pipelines. Smaller pipelines are cheaper to repurpose while leading to somewhat higher transport cost per kilometre. Transporting hydrogen over 1 000 km would on average cost €0.11-0.21 per kg of hydrogen, making the EHB a cost-effective option for long-distance hydrogen transportation.

Stable regulatory framework required

The hydrogen infrastructure maps for 2030, 2035 and 2040 published today reflect the vision of 23 European gas TSOs, based on their analysis of how infrastructure could evolve to meet decarbonization targets. It is important to stress that the hydrogen transportation routes and timelines in the maps are not set in stone. The final Backbone design and timeline depend on market conditions for hydrogen and natural gas and the creation of a stable regulatory framework.

Roadmap for hydrogen infrastructure in Sweden – vision

The Swedish climate target is to reach net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2045. The decarbonization efforts necessary for this goal to be achieved are many and the visionary and ambitious scenario of a dedicated hydrogen backbone not only supports this goal, but it brings additional robustness to the entire energy system. The backbone would aid the transmission of energy from north to south creating a sustainable, flexible, and balanced energy system.

During the late 2020s, the Swedish backbone emerges on the coastal region in the south-west of the country with an interconnection to the Danish grid. Chemical and petrochemical industries situated close to the backbone are the drivers of hydrogen demand. Given the absence of parallel piping infrastructure, dedicated hydrogen pipelines will have to be newly built.

Given the nature of Sweden’s geography, terrain, and location of industrial clusters, hydrogen island grids are starting to arise and are subsequently connect via regional networks.

By 2030, significant industrial use of hydrogen is expected, and the total energy demand requires large scale-up of RES and transmission solutions. Large onshore wind parks situated mainly in scarcely populated areas, and offshore wind parks emerge across the country. The southern backbone stretches further north not far from the Stockholm region of Sweden, linking industrial demand centres and cities in southern and central Sweden. In the most northern parts of Sweden an additional backbone emerges with an interconnection to the Finnish backbone. The transforming mining and steel industries are the main drivers behind the hydrogen demand in the most northern parts of the country.

By 2035, the southern and northern backbones connect, creating a hydrogen corridor across the country, linking the backbones of Denmark, Sweden, and Finland to the European hydrogen backbone. A new energy transmission network from north to south would be a reality. An offshore connection across the Gulf of Bothnia, via an energy island, would be the second possible interconnection between Sweden and Finland.

By 2040, a second interconnection (offshore) from Denmark could emerge via the Kattegat sea area, which is the fourth possible interconnector for Sweden.


Download the report in full here: www.europeanhydrogenbackbone.eu

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