15 Dec 2022, 13:43
Benjamin Wehrmann

Construction of Europe’s first hydrogen pipeline network to begin in Germany

Clean Energy Wire

Construction of Germany’s and also Europe’s first network of hydrogen pipelines are set to start this week in the country’s east, the federal economy ministry and its counterpart in the state of Saxony have said. The Leipzig-based company Ontras plans to construct a pipeline grid with a length of over 900 kilometres by 2030, mostly by retrofitting existing natural gas transport infrastructure. Saxony’s economy minister Martin Dulig said the projects “Doing hydrogen” and “Green Octopus Mitteldeutschland,” financed in the framework of the EU’s IPCEI (Important Projects of Common European Interest) scheme, would make the eastern state a gateway for the scale-up of a European hydrogen economy. Dulig said the turmoil on European energy markets caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine had made an early preparation of more sustainable alternatives for businesses with hydrogen “one of the central tasks of this decade.”

Saxony’s government plans to establish a comprehensive green hydrogen supply chain that combines the policy targets of climate action, supply security and greater energy independence. The project in eastern Germany is meant to become part of a larger “European Hydrogen Backbone” infrastructure, and receive connections to hydrogen import terminals at the North and Baltic Seas, the ministry added. Network operator company Ontras stressed that a hydrogen grid must grow in lockstep with other infrastructure elements that enable a fully-fledged industry in the country. “Our appeal to policymakers is to create binding framework conditions for that as soon as possible,” the company said.

Recent media reports said that the German government aims to solidify targets to rapidly scale up the country’s electrolysis capacity - which is needed to split water into hydrogen and oxygen - by 2030 by revising its National Hydrogen Strategy. With a change of government energy crisis occurring since the strategy's introduction, the economy ministry is updating the strategy ahead of schedule, with the aim to adopt it in January 2023. The revision includes plans for new national pipelines, hydrogen storage concepts, import strategies and international hydrogen infrastructure.

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