- Accelerated EHB network vision by 2030 in response to European
Commission’s REPowerEU communication and call to greater action on
climate protection and European energy system resilience.
- European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB) network grows by more than 110%
since initial launch one and a half years ago – expanded members present
vision for approximately 53,000 km hydrogen pipeline infrastructure in
28 European countries by 2040.
- The Backbone is expected to be made up of ~60%-40% repurposed natural gas versus new pipelines in 2040.
- Digital, interactive vision maps will be published as part of new EHB website later in April.
Today, the European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB) initiative
presents a promising solution to accelerate hydrogen adoption for
greater energy security and meet renewable targets
In the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the onus is on
European countries to achieve greater energy independence. This has led
to a greater push to accelerate and scale up the adoption of
decarbonised energy sources as highlighted in the REPowerEU statement, a
plan to phase out Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels from Russia well
before 2030 and to increase the resilience of the EU-wide energy system.
Amongst other measures, REPowerEU introduces an update of its vision
for a dedicated hydrogen transport ambition to reach an additional 15
million tonnes (Mt) of renewable hydrogen on top of the 5.6 Mt foreseen
under Fit for 55, going beyond the targets of the EU’s hydrogen
Achieving these targets will require a rapid acceleration of the
development of an integrated gas and hydrogen infrastructure across
Europe. In light of these events, the EHB has accelerated its programme
from 2035 to 2030 with the aim to meet the REPowerEU targets. The group
proposes a hydrogen network of ~53,000 km by 2040, with further growth
expected after 2040. The network, reflecting the vision of  European
energy, hydrogen storage facilities, and port infrastructure operators,
covers 28 European countries and creates a diverse set of hydrogen
import opportunities. The vision launched today follows the EHB reports
published in July 2020 and April 2021, which sparked an uptick in
interest across Europe. Since the initial launch one and a half years
ago, the EHB’s 2040 vision network has expanded to 18 new countries and
has grown by 110%.
Accelerated vision to meet climate ambitions and increase European energy system resilience
In view of tighter national and European climate ambitions and
following quotes from the EC’s REPowerEU communication to accelerate
hydrogen, that can replace 25-50 bcm per year of imported Russian gas by
2030 and political developments have pushed EHB to accelerate its work
programme, bringing the 2035 scenarios to 2030. The updated hydrogen
infrastructure network maps presented today build on the EHB
initiative’s prior body of work. The accelerated EHB vision shows that by 2030, five pan-European hydrogen supply and import corridors with almost 28,000 km of initial pipelines could emerge,
connecting industrial clusters, ports, and hydrogen valleys to regions
of abundant demand – and laying the foundation for future large-scale
hydrogen supply. The EHB’s vision is an adequate vehicle through which
the EC’s 2030 ambition to promote development of a 20.6 Mt renewable and low-carbon European hydrogen market could be realised.
Cost-effective onshore and offshore pipeline transport of hydrogen
The ~53,000 km envisaged backbone by 2040 requires
an estimated total investment of €80-143 billion based on using ~60% of
repurposed natural gas pipelines and ~40% new pipeline stretches,
including subsea pipelines. This investment cost estimate, which is
relatively limited in the context of overall investments needed in the
European energy transition, includes subsea pipelines and
interconnectors linking continental demand centres to offshore energy
production hubs. Transporting hydrogen over 1,000 km along the proposed
onshore backbone would on average cost €0.11-0.21 per kg of hydrogen, making the EHB the most cost-effective option
for large-scale, long-distance hydrogen transport. In case hydrogen is
transported exclusively via subsea pipelines, the cost would be
€0.17-0.32 per kg of hydrogen per 1,000 km transported.
Stable regulatory framework required
The hydrogen infrastructure maps for 2030 and 2040 published today
reflect the vision of 31 European gas TSOs, based on their analysis of
how infrastructure could evolve to meet decarbonisation targets. It is
important to stress that the hydrogen transport routes and timelines in
the maps are not set in stone. The final backbone design and timeline depend on market conditions for hydrogen and natural gas and the creation of a stable regulatory framework.
“With EHB, the participating infrastructure companies took a
European perspective for upscaling hydrogen from the start. Going beyond
just regional clusters and anticipating a Europe–wide
hydrogen transportation infrastructure based on the existing gas
infrastructure early on creates confidence for future market
participants, access to various competitive supply sources and security
of demand for project developers. The current geopolitical situation
underlines how valuable Europe’s gas infrastructure is. It is a real
asset in the transformation” says Daniel Muthmann, Chairman of the EHB initiative.
An open initiative
The EHB aims to accelerate Europe’s decarbonisation journey by
defining the critical role of hydrogen infrastructure – based on
existing and new pipelines – in enabling the development of a
competitive, liquid, pan-European renewable and low-carbon hydrogen
market. By 2040 this could include a majority 60% repurposed pipelines
and 40% new. The initiative seeks to foster market competition, security of supply, and cross-border collaboration between European countries and their neighbours.
The EHB initiative is looking forward to continuing to discuss its
vision with stakeholders including policy makers, companies, and
initiatives along the hydrogen value chain. An up-to-date and
interactive version of the latest vision maps will be published
alongside the EHB’s flagship website later in April.
European Commission (2022) – REPowerEU : Joint European Action for more
affordable, secure, and sustainable energy (COM(2022) 109 final).
Note: since the announcement of the EHB initiative’s work programme in
January 2022, 2 additional TSOs, Transgaz Romania and FluxSwiss
(Switzerland) have joined the initiative.