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European hydrogen infrastructure map – POLITICO


The current European energy crisis and the achievement of the ambitious targets set in the REPowerEU plan clearly present challenges, making the accelerated deployment of renewable gases increasingly crucial. Record temperatures across Europe in the summer of 2022 have served as a reminder of the urgent need to move away from Europe’s reliance on fossil fuels. The hydrogen market is developing rapidly and the establishment of an appropriate regulatory framework is now a priority. Hydrogen, in particular, has been put forward as a possible solution to enable a faster and more robust energy transition in Europe.

It is obvious that policy makers have an important role to play in this context. As part of the REPowerEU plan, the European Commission has set up a hydrogen accelerator, an initiative to reach 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen imported and 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen produced domestically (EU) by 2030. In September 2022, the Commission approved €5.2 billion in EU public funding for hydrogen projects, through the IPCEI Hy2Use initiative.

Furthermore, in its conclusions of the 36th European Gas Regulatory Forum in May 2022, the Commission, together with other stakeholders in the energy sector, agreed “…to joint action to be taken by the gas infrastructure sector (ENTSOG, EHB, GIE, CEDEC, Eurogas, GEODE, GD4S) to visualize all the hydrogen infrastructure projects collected under different existing processes in the form of a map”. In other words, the transparency of the Progress is critical for energy market players, and this includes presenting hydrogen project data throughout the value chain.

The interactive, user-friendly and publicly accessible map provides a comprehensive overview of hydrogen infrastructure projects for stakeholders and decision makers.

With this mandate, the aforementioned energy industry players began their work to visualize current hydrogen infrastructure projects and future needs, in the form of an interactive map. This concerns gas transmission system operators (GRT), distribution system operators (GRD), storage system operators (SSO) and LNG system operators (LSO), as well as third-party promoters developing consortium projects across the entire value chain, liaising with production and buyers. Hydrogen infrastructure projects include transmission pipelines, distribution pipelines, storage sites, terminals and ports, as well as some demand and production projects. To complement this picture, the map will be updated regularly to provide an up-to-date picture of the hydrogen economy.

The interactive, user-friendly and publicly accessible map provides a comprehensive overview of hydrogen infrastructure projects for stakeholders and decision makers. The task started with a bottom-up data collection for all relevant infrastructure projects for the production, storage, import and transport of hydrogen, presenting the projected state in 2030, 2040 and 2050. This could be easily made for projects that are already commissioned or soon to be commissioned. With regard to the inclusion of projects envisaged for the future — visions of a hydrogen future — the TSOs have a long experience of infrastructure planning and development, including work for the projects of the ten-year development plan for the gas network (TYNDP). At the same time, DSOs are very well placed to contribute to planning due to their ability to connect residential, commercial and industrial gas end users. The DSOs have in-depth knowledge of their networks and, above all, an understanding of the local potential for the production of renewable and low-carbon gases. In addition, hydrogen storage is a key enabling technology needed for the emergence of a hydrogen ecosystem, as it provides an essential bridge between variable electricity supply options (dedicated RES and off-grid) and the dynamics of hydrogen demand. The terminals will also allow the import of hydrogen and its derivatives.

Repurposing existing infrastructure is key to connecting hydrogen supply and demand clusters to create a pan-European “hydrogen backbone”.

The collaborative efforts of these actors, supported in its development by Guidehouse, resulted in the publication of the Hydrogen Infrastructure map on a dedicated website. In total, the map includes more than 220 hydrogen projects, with more than 120 TSO and DSO projects, 40 storage projects and 10 for terminals and ports. Projects include newly constructed infrastructure, as well as projects to modernize and redeploy existing infrastructure.

As the map shows, repurposed existing infrastructure is key to connecting hydrogen supply and demand clusters to create a pan-European “hydrogen backbone”. It also highlights the need for hydrogen storage as an essential technology and the role of terminals and ports in facilitating imports of hydrogen and its derivatives. In addition, the connection of hydrogen to the distribution network offers an immediate opportunity to create synergies between sectors at the local level. The number of projects collected also confirms that infrastructure is not a bottleneck, but rather an enabler for the development of the hydrogen economy. The integrated network of projects, developed by consortia of actors, shows that this hydrogen economy can only develop through collaboration throughout the value chain.

[The map] emphasizes the need for hydrogen storage as an essential technology and the role of terminals and ports in facilitating imports of hydrogen and its derivatives.

Despite the different energy challenges we face as European citizens, there is no doubt that we have the tools and the tenacity to innovate and change for the better. The hydrogen infrastructure map clearly shows the concerted efforts of TSOs, DSOs, SSOs and LSOs to achieve EC’s REPowerEU climate and energy security goals. It is an example of the progress already made in the short and long term, laying a foundation that will last for years and decades to come.

Additional Note: An online session to provide an overview of the purpose and functionality of the interactive map will take place during the ENTSOG conference at 4:00 p.m. on December 14, 2022, with additional comments provided by industry stakeholders involved in the development of the map. A dedicated webinar is also planned for January 2023. This will be an opportunity to take into account feedback from stakeholders and use it for the next iterations of the map. The map should be considered “alive” and subject to regular updates as new project information becomes available.



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