- New study by the European Hydrogen Backbone initiative estimates 2,300 TWh of hydrogen demand in EU+UK by 2050 corresponding to 20-25% of future EU and UK energy demand
- Austria is an important transportation hub for the largest consumer clusters
- Sufficient potential exists to produce this quantity as green and blue hydrogen within the EU and UK, hydrogen imports from neighbouring regions as an attractive supplement
- European Hydrogen Backbone is essential to create a European cross-border hydrogen market and bringt together supply and demand
Today, the European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB) initiative presents an analysis on future demand, supply, and transport of hydrogen across Europe. This study complements the recently published EHB maps, which showed a hydrogen pipeline network of nearly 40,000 km by 2040, connecting 19 EU Member States plus the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
Large future hydrogen demand to make Europe a climate-neutral continent
The EU and UK could see a hydrogen demand of around 2,300 TWh (of which 2,000 TWh in the EU) by 2050. This equals about 45% of EU+UK natural gas consumption in 2019. Hydrogen is crucial to de-carbonise industry, in particular chemicals (ammonia and high-value chemicals), iron and steel, and fuel pro-duction. Hydrogen is also expected to play an important role in providing dispatchable electricity, as a heavy transport fuel and in some countries in the heating of buildings.
Central location and established gas transport routes make Austria an important hub for future hydrogen transports
The existing Gas Connect Austria network, including the Baumgarten hub, is ideally suited as a Euro-pean hydrogen hub due to its central location. To ensure that hydrogen is available for consumption clusters in Austria and Germany in the short and medium term, it can be transported together with natu-ral gas in the pipelines not only within Austria, but also across borders. By means of blending plants, hydrogen can be added to the gas flow and removed again in pure form at the point of consumption by means of de-blending plants. In this way, the existing gas infrastructure makes an important contri-bution to the development of a European hydrogen market. In the long term, existing pipelines can be converted or new hydrogen pipelines can be built.
"The Austrian gas infrastructure is an important part of the EHB. As a future hydrogen hub, it can make a significant contribution on the way to a climate-neutral energy supply for Austria and large parts of Europe," says Stefan Königshofer, Head of Sales Transmission & Distribution at Gas Connect Austria.
Europe can be self-sufficient in green and blue hydrogen, imports are an attractive supplement
The total expected hydrogen demand could potentially be met by green hydrogen produced in the EU and UK, using renewable electricity. Yet producing such quantities of green hydrogen domestically is subject to public acceptance of an accelerated expansion of renewable installed capacity, financing, regulation and quali-ty standard setting. It is anticipated that the economics of green hydrogen production costs will improve, allowing a rapid scale-up. In addition to green hydrogen, large quantities of relatively cheap blue hydrogen can be produced in Europe to quickly drive emission reductions and accelerate the pace of the transition. The study also shows that hydrogen imports by pipeline can provide an attractive complement to domestic supply.
Hydrogen Backbone is cost-effective and essential to create a European cross-border hydrogen market
Repurposed existing gas infrastructure plays a crucial role in connecting hydrogen supply and demand locations. Hydrogen pipelines are the most cost-efficient option for long-distance, high-volume transport at €0.11-0.21/kg per 1,000 km, outcompeting transport by ship for all reasonable distances within Europe and neighbouring re-gions.
Gas Connect Austria GmbH is a natural gas transmission system and distribution system operator, based in Vienna. With 280 employees, Gas Connect Austria operates a modern and powerful high-pressure network centred on the Baumgarten hub, with connections to Germany, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia, as well as to storage and production facilities. As a logistics services provider with a strong customer focus, the company is constantly developing its products and services in line with market requirements. Gas Connect Austria is intensively engaged with the issues of the energy transi-tion at national and European level and is actively working on solutions for decarbonising the grids.
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