To lower emissions countries are increasingly turning to hydrogen

Europe aims to build 28,000 kilometres of hydrogen pipelines by 2030

A hydrogen refuelling point at a Royal Dutch Shell gas station in Berlin, Germany. Europe is aiming to build about 28,000 kilometres of hydrogen pipelines by 2030. Bloomberg
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Europe, China and Australia are building new hydrogen projects to boost the production of clean fuel amid efforts to lower emissions and limit global warming, a report has shown.

New refuelling infrastructure is also being developed across countries to help decarbonise heavy-duty and other modes of transport, a report from Argus Media said.

In March, UK-based ITM and trading firm Vitol announced a refuelling joint venture, aimed initially at the British market, that will cater to cars, lorries and buses.

German refuelling firm H2 Mobility is also increasing its refuelling stations in the country to 300 by 2030 after receiving €110 million ($119m) in funding.

US refiner Phillips 66 and Swiss firm H2 Energy are also collaborating to deploy up to 250 refuelling stations across Germany, Austria and Denmark, the report said.

Spanish oil and gas company Cepsa, meanwhile, plans to install hydrogen refuelling stations every 300 kilometres on the main arteries connecting Spain with other parts of Europe in a bid to cut emissions.

“The EU is steadily upgrading its alternative fuels infrastructure directive into binding regulation for its members,” the report said.

The member of the European Parliament responsible for delivering the legislation, Germany’s Ismail Ertug, has pushed to strengthen the mandate for hydrogen fuelling stations to one outlet per 100km, down from every 150km previously, along the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) the bloc is planning.

Member states would also be obliged to set up regular electric vehicle charging points under the proposals, the report said.

Hydrogen, which can be produced from both renewable energy and natural gas, is expected to play a key role in the coming years as economies and industries transition to a low-carbon world to mitigate climate change.

The size of the global hydrogen industry is expected to hit $183 billion by 2023, up from $129bn in 2017, Fitch Solutions reported.

There are also other hydrogen projects under development.

Australian green hydrogen developer Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) and German utility Eon have signed an agreement aimed at supplying hydrogen produced in Australia to Germany and the Netherlands.

The two companies aim to deliver five million tonnes of green hydrogen per year, which would be equivalent to about 165 terawatt hours (TWh) of natural gas and one third of the calorific energy Germany imports from Russia.

First supplies are expected to be delivered in 2024 as Germany, Europe’s largest economy, aims to diversify its energy supplies and reduce dependence on Russia.

Europe plans to build about 28,000km of hydrogen pipelines by 2030 and 53,000km by 2040, with about 60 per cent being repurposed existing natural gas pipelines and 40 per cent new pipelines.

The continent plans to build five supply and import corridors by 2030. One would connect supply from Tunisia and Algeria through Italy to central Europe, leveraging existing pipelines in Italy, Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

A south-west corridor would transport green hydrogen produced in the Iberian Peninsula through France into western Germany to eventually provide access to imports from Morocco.

A corridor connecting buyers in central Europe to regions with abundant renewable energy potential, such as Romania, Greece and Ukraine, through repurposed gas pipelines, is also being planned, the report said.

The US, meanwhile, is helping Europe reduce its dependence on Russian oil and natural gas by boosting LNG infrastructure projects that could support hydrogen deployment in the future. The development comes as Europe focuses on reducing reliance on Russian energy amid the Ukraine conflict.

The UK government has also doubled its target for low-carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 to 10 gigawatts from five gigawatts as part of its Energy Security Strategy. At least half of the hydrogen will come from renewables and the rest from domestic natural gas using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, the report said.

China, the world’s second-largest economy, has also outlined a hydrogen development plan for 2021-2035 as it aims to become carbon neutral by 2060.

China aims to bring 50,000 hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles on to roads by 2025 and will build a number of hydrogen refuelling stations. It is also aiming for green hydrogen production to reach 100,000-200,000 tonnes per year by 2025, with a carbon reduction target of one million to two million tonnes per year, the report said.

“The country aims to establish a complete technology innovation system for hydrogen and bolster production and supplies of clean hydrogen by 2030, in an effort to meet Beijing’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2060 and for carbon dioxide emissions to peak by 2030,” the report added.

The focus on hydrogen production is expected to boost long-term demand for rare earth metals such as lanthanum and cerium, which are used to make hydrogen catalysts, purification materials, and storage and transport materials, as well as solid oxide fuel cells.

Updated: September 08, 2022, 5:43 AM