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    European grid operators scale up hydrogen plans


The hydrogen network is now expected to be almost 40,000 km in size by 2040, involving 23 European gas system operators.

by: Joseph Murphy

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European grid operators scale up hydrogen plans

European gas system operators behind the European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB) initiative have significantly expanded the scope of their plan to establish a continent-wide hydrogen network, the companies said on April 13.

The EHB partners proposed last year establishing a hydrogen network some 6,800 km in size by 2030, by converting existing gas pipelines to carry the fuel and building new dedicated pipelines. The plan was to scale this up to 23,000 km by 2040, connecting 10 European countries.

In statements yesterday, however, the system operators said they were now targeting a 11,600-km network by 2030 and a 39,700-km system by 2040, spread across 21 European countries. While the previous plan focused mainly on hydrogen infrastructure in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and France, the proposed expansion would bring hydrogen supply to the UK and Ireland, central and eastern Europe and Finland, Estonia and Greece.

Some 69% of the grid will comprise repurposed existing gas pipelines while the rest will be built from scratch. Earlier, EHB had expected 75% of the system to be repurposed.

Creating the nearly 40,000-km network will cost  €43-81bn ($51.5-97.0bn), up from last year's estimate of €27-64bn. But the investment cost per km of pipeline is lower, as the previous plan took only 48-inch diameter pipes into account, but the new one includes smaller pipes.

The downside is that smaller pipes entail a higher transport cost. The newly-proposed system is expected to have average transport costs of €0.11-0.21/kg of hydrogen/'000 km, up from last year's projection of €0.09-0.17/kg/'000 km.

"We are glad that eleven new countries have joined the EHB initiative," the project's coordinator Daniel Muthmann said in a statement. "Our new report shows that a truly pan-European hydrogen infrastructure largely based on repurposed existing gas infrastructure is possible."

12 more European gas grid operators have joined the initiative, bringing the total number to 23. The members are Creos, DESFA, Elering, Enagaas, Energinet, Eustream, FGSZ, Fluxys Belgium, Gasgrid Finland, Gasunie, Gaz-System, GCA, GNI, GRTgaz, National Grid, Net4Gas, Nordion Energi, OGE, Ontras, Plinovodi, Snam, TAG and Terega.