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29 Jul 2020, 13:29
Benjamin Wehrmann

Russia ponders adding hydrogen to Nord Stream 2 gas deliveries to Germany

Handelsblatt / TASS

The Russian government is urging the country's leading energy companies to quickly expand their hydrogen production capacities and is considering using the controversial offshore gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 to transport the synthetic gas to Germany, Andre Ballin writes for the Handelsblatt. The state-owned energy companies Gazprom and Rosatom have been instructed by Russia's energy ministry to establish large-scale hydrogen production capacities by 2024, the article says. According to the article, the country seeks to transform its hydrogen production from "grey" to "turquois," meaning that instead of CO2 emissions stemming from the use fossil fuels, the production with methane separation will have solid carbon as a by-product that could be used as fertiliser, Ballin says. "In case of a mass transformation towards hydrogen in Europe, Russia otherwise could face a shutdown of the pipelines" and turn Nord Stream 2 into an "investment ruin," he writes. In a first step, Gazprom reportedly ponders adding up to 20 percent of hydrogen to the natural gas flowing through older pipelines in its network and might increase the share to up to 70 percent in newer ones like the offshore link connecting Russia with Germany through the Baltic Sea.

Meanwhile, the Swiss-based consortium operating Nord Stream 2 has filed an appeal against the EU General Court's decision to dismiss the company’s claim against the EU Gas Directive that forbids too much influence of one company on a gas project, arguing that it infringes on the principle of equal treatment, the Russian news agency Tass reported. Half of the pipeline is paid for by Gazprom, the other half by five EU energy companies.

The construction project that runs parallel to the existing Nord Stream 1 pipeline is nearing completion after a lengthy licensing procedure that saw many neighbouring countries and the EU object to the Russian-German gas link. However, construction has been halted due to threats of sanctions by the US government against companies participating in the project with major investors from Russia, Germany, France, the UK and Austria. Carbon-neutral hydrogen production is seen as an emerging cornerstone of the energy transition that makes using renewable power much more flexible and widespread. However, the natural gas infrastructure would need to be substantially adapted for it to be able to transport hydrogen.

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