The development of renewable hydrogen as the energy vector of the future requires a dedicated infrastructure that allows for the safe management of the entire value chain, from production to storage, transport and end use. In this framework, transmission through hydrogen pipelines must play a pivotal role, providing a reliable and safe connection between demand points and consumption centres.
A hydrogen pipeline is a pipeline used to transport hydrogen in an effective, efficient, and reliable manner. Just as natural gas is transported through gas pipelines, hydrogen is transported through hydrogen pipelines.
Transporting hydrogen through this type of infrastructure is an option that is more competitive at large flows and over long distances than transporting electricity through high-voltage transmission lines to make the same hydrogen available at its destination. This high-volume hydrogen scenario is exactly what is envisioned in the European Commission’s REPowerEU plan, which also calls on countries to structure the future European hydrogen transmission network.
Spain already has an existing infrastructure network that could be the starting point for the development of a hydrogen network
Currently, it is technically possible to use the existing gas infrastructure for hydrogen transport without significant changes. Countries like Spain already have an infrastructure network that could be the starting point for the development of a hydrogen network, with more than 80% overlapping routes.
In total, Spain has now identified 30% of gas pipeline sections that can be converted to hydrogen pipelines, a percentage that could be increased to as much as 70%.
There are also other synergies between the gas and hydrogen networks. For example, using the existing infrastructure as a starting point means a reduction in processing times of up to 50%, cost savings of more than 30% and a reduced environmental impact.
REPowerEU, the EU’s plan to reduce energy dependence on Russia and promote decarbonisation, envisions that 20 million tons of renewable hydrogen will be demanded by 2030. To this end, it envisages the development of hydrogen corridors linking the production potential of countries such as Spain with consumption centres in the rest of Europe.
The European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB) is a Europe-wide initiative working in this direction in line with REPowerEU. It aims to advance the decarbonisation of Europe by creating a reliable and secure hydrogen infrastructure network for the development of a liquid and competitive pan-European market for renewable hydrogen.
The European Hydrogen Backbone is a pan-European initiative aligned with REPowerEU that aims to create a reliable and secure hydrogen infrastructure network
EHB, in which Enagás participates as one of the main European transmission system operators, proposes a 53,000 km network of hydrogen products that will connect, by 2050, the different hydrogen valleys of the continent to the main ports and industrial centres that will become the main consumption points of this new energy vector.
H2Med, the first renewable hydrogen corridor in the European Union, is the result of collaboration between the governments of Spain, Portugal and France.
H2Med includes two cross-border infrastructures, one between Portugal and Zamora, and the other, underwater, between Barcelona and Marseille (France), both developed by the respective gas system transmission and management companies: Enagás on the Spanish side, REN on the Portuguese side, and GRTgaz and Terega on the French side.
A few days ago, Germany came on board the project. Germany is set to become one of the largest consumers of renewable hydrogen in Europe. Joining H2Med will create one of the conditions for green hydrogen to be a real alternative for decarbonisation: matching supply and demand, i.e. connecting production and consumption centres.
The future H2MED will have the capacity to transport up to 2 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen per year, which is 10% of the expected European consumption by 2030
The future H2MED will have the capacity to transport up to 2 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen per year, which is 10% of the expected European consumption by 2030, according to REPowerEU.
Furthermore, the first two routes of the Spanish Hydrogen Backbone Network in Spain have been presented. The first consists of the Cantabrian Coast, Ebro Valley and Levante corridor, and the second is the Vía de la Plata axis, connected to the Puertollano Hydrogen Valley.
Projects such as H2Med and the development of a Hydrogen Backbone Network in Spain will allow Spain to position itself as Europe’s leading hub for renewable hydrogen. It will have the ability and capacity to export it from the Iberian Peninsula to Central and Northern Europe, as well as meet domestic demand.