Europe's pipeline operators put case for hydrogen
A study by a group of European gas transmission system operators (TSOs) has found that blue and green hydrogen could meet between a fifth and a quarter of the EU's and the UK's final energy needs, according to their report published June 15.
The companies, members of the European Hydrogen Backbone initiative, found that domestic European hydrogen supply potential exceeds what would be needed to meet projected demand in all sectors.
The TSOs have a special interest in hydrogen: "Repurposed existing gas infrastructure plays a crucial role in connecting hydrogen supply and demand locations and in providing security of demand for supply project investors, as well as security of supply and competition for future offtakers," the report says.
The region could consume 2,300 TWh of hydrogen by 2050 assuming market frameworks, legislation, technology readiness and consumer choice are all favourable, they said. Hydrogen would replace grey hydrogen in ammonia and fuel production and is a main input for the production of low-carbon fuels used in aviation or as feedstock for the production of high-value chemicals and steel.
Of that total, about 1,200 TWh/yr would be for industry; around 650 TWh/yr would be for dispatchable electricity production; 300 TWh/yr would be for transport and the rest in heating, assuming "accelerated renovation rates and hybrid heating systems in existing homes with a gas connection and in 30% of district heating."
Domestic green hydrogen supply potential in the EU and UK from dedicated renewables is estimated to be 450 TWh in 2030, 2,100 TWh in 2040, and 4,000 TWh in 2050. This potential already takes into account the growing need for renewable electricity for direct consumption, land availability, environmental considerations and installation rates. But this depends on a "rapid, vast expansion of wind and solar capacity, beyond what is needed for direct electricity demand."
Natural gas producing countries could benefit from lower natural gas costs to produce blue hydrogen at €1/kg. Blue hydrogen can quickly drive emission reductions and accelerate the pace of the transition, especially in the market’s ramp-up phase (2030), when green hydrogen supply potential from dedicated renewables alone will be insufficient to meet local and regional demand in absence of a fully interconnected European hydrogen backbone, the report says.