The Hydrogen Stream: Hydrogen highway through Central Europe


Four Central European gas infrastructure companies teamed up to develop a hydrogen highway through Central Europe for the transportation of up to 120 GWh per day of pure hydrogen by 2030. The focus of the joint initiative, called the Central European Hydrogen Corridor, is on developing a hydrogen corridor in Central Europe from Ukraine via Slovakia and the Czech Republic to hydrogen demand areas in Germany and other parts of the EU. Participating companies include Eustream (the Slovak gas TSO), Gas TSO of Ukraine (GTSOU), Net4gas (the Czech gas TSO), and OGE (a German gas TSO). “We are committed to making our infrastructure hydrogen-ready and thus strongly contribute to the EU’s decarbonization objectives,” Eustream General Director Rastislav Ňukovič commented on Thursday. Meanwhile, Eustream is also teaming up with Germany’s RWE Supply & Trading and infrastructure operators EP Infrastructure (EPIF) and NAFTA to jointly explore the potential development of blue hydrogen production facilities in eastern Slovakia. To this end, the companies have now signed a memorandum of understanding. “By 2023 we aim to be technologically ready to accept hydrogen blends of up to 5% into our system and in the future we are planning to dedicate one of our pipelines to pure hydrogen transmission,” Ňukovič said on Friday.

The German government published its Ordinance on the Allocation of Other Energy Production Areas in the Exclusive Economic Zone (SoEnergieV). It will enter into force next week, allowing the testing of hydrogen production from offshore electricity. “Until now, electrolysis for hydrogen production has only taken place on land. Business and industry will now have the opportunity to use and test offshore electrolysis for the first time,” the Federal Ministry of Economics wrote in a statement on Friday. The ordinance specifies the criteria according to which areas in the exclusive economic zone in the North Sea will be allocated for offshore hydrogen production. The Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency is responsible for the award. “The production of green hydrogen at sea is a genuine future topic with high innovation potential. Offshore hydrogen production can make an important contribution to decarbonizing Germany as an industrial location,” commented economics minister Peter Altmaier. The first round of tenders is to be held as early as 2022. Successful bidders will first be granted the right to apply for a zoning procedure in an area. In a further step, they can apply for funding. The German government has decided in the energy and climate package to provide 50 million euros from 2022. Earlier this week, the German government approved the draft ordinance on the costs and charges for access to hydrogen networks. “Specifically, the regulation creates a reliable basis for calculating network costs, which are financed by hydrogen network operators through network charges,” reads the press release published on Wednesday. The government called its National Hydrogen Strategy a “success story,” but some critical voices among utilities described it as a “construction site.”

The Port of Rotterdam Authority and the DeltaPort Niederrheinhäfen signed a declaration of intent on Wednesday to strengthen their cooperation with the aim of “enabling this group of inland ports in the northern Ruhr area to be a regional hub for importing green hydrogen from the port of Rotterdam.” Other signatories included German companies Thyssengas, energy company Eon, cold store operator Nordfrost, and regional development company Kreis Wesel. The declaration confirms the intention of North Rhine-Westphalia to become Germany’s hydrogen hub. “The significance of this project goes way beyond our region,” commented Andreas Pinkwart, North Rhine-Westphalia's minister of economic affairs, innovation, digitisation and energy. Inland shipping and rail are expected to play a central role in the region’s hydrogen strategy. “We want to help developing a Cool Corridor, a regular inland shipping connection for reefer containers between Rotterdam and the Ruhr area,” said Emile Hoogsteden, commercial director at the Port of Rotterdam Authority. “With Nordfrost’s investment in a new centre for refrigeration logistics that can run on clean energy, we can help develop emission-free inland shipping connections with the deep-sea terminals in Rotterdam.”

European multinational aerospace corporation Airbus, French industrial gases and services company Air Liquide and French construction company and airport operator Vinci said they are working together to promote the use of hydrogen at airports and planning to build a European airport network to accommodate future hydrogen aircraft. “The airport of Lyon-Saint Exupéry (France) will host the first installations as early as 2023. This partnership reflects the three groups' shared ambition to combine their respective expertise to support the decarbonization of air travel,” the companies announced Tuesday, adding that by 2030, they would study the possibility of equipping Vinci Airports' European airport network with the hydrogen production, storage and supply facilities needed for use on the ground and onboard aircraft. Vinci Airports operates 45 airports in 12 countries.

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British green hydrogen energy company Protium and service provider Petrofac signed a strategic partnership to deliver net-zero projects across the UK. “I am delighted to announce our partnership with Petrofac, whose world-leading experience in green hydrogen EPC work (notably with Infinite Blue Energy’s Arrowsmith project in Australia) will enable Protium to deliver exceptional projects for our clients,” commented Protium CEO Chris Jackson. The collaboration involves the development of renewable energy assets, green hydrogen production facilities, and downstream hydrogen equipment. “We’re delighted to combine Petrofac’s engineering, project management and operations capabilities with Protium’s green hydrogen and project development expertise to support its target to deliver 1 GW of production assets by 2030 for a range of industrial customers,” Petrofac COO John Pearson added.

British multinational chemicals company Ineos announced on Wednesday its intention to invest over €1.17 ($1.37) billion at its UK Grangemouth refinery, including in measures to support blue hydrogen production. “The Road Map involves a move to the production and use of hydrogen by all businesses at the Grangemouth site accompanied by carbon capture and storage of at least 1 million tonnes per annum of CO2 by 2030. This will include capturing CO2 from existing hydrogen production and the construction of a world-scale carbon capture enabled hydrogen production plant,” reads the press release.

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which shipped a total of 5 billion cubic metres of natural gas from Azerbaijan to the Greek-Turkish border, said it is eying hydrogen transportation opportunities. “As per our long-term vision, TAP will continue to pursue opportunities to transport carbon neutral energy sources, such as hydrogen, reducing emissions, in line with European Union energy transition objectives,” TAP managing director Luca Schieppati said last week. TAP can expand in stages, up to double its initial capacity. For now, TAP can transport approximately 10 billion cubic meters of gas per annum to several European countries.

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