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MACLEAN, VA: The European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB) initiative, launched in 2020, has released an analysis of the future demand, supply and transport of hydrogen across Europe.

The report estimates demand for 2,300 TWh in the EU and the UK by 2050, or 20-25 percent of future energy requirements, and suggests there is sufficient potential within the region to produce this quantity as green and blue hydrogen.

In transport, next to electrification and biofuels, the study concludes “a clear role for about 300 TWh per year of hydrogen as a fuel”, with additional hydrogen needed to produce synthetic fuels in aviation.

By 2050 hydrogen is forecast to power 55 percent of trucks, 25 percent of buses and 10 percent of airplanes. The transport sector demand for direct hydrogen will be 285 TWh, with 68 TWh in aviation and 217 TWh in heavy road transport. Direct hydrogen will account for 12 percent of total transport energy demand.

The study, prepared by consulting company Guidehouse, complements a proposed hydrogen pipeline network of nearly 40,000 kilometres by 2040 connecting 19 EU Member States plus the UK and Switzerland. This would be achieved by a repurposed existing gas infrastructure combined with targeted investments in new hydrogen pipelines and compressor stations.

Guidehouse says 23 European gas transmission companies have agreed to the idea: Creos, DESFA, Elering, Enagás, Energinet, Eustream, FGSZ, Fluxys Belgium, Gas Connect Austria, Gasgrid Finland, Gasunie, Gaz-System, Gas Networks Ireland, GRTgaz, National Grid, NET4GAS, Nordion Energi, OGE, ONTRAS, Plinovodi, Snam, TAG, and Teréga.

The consultant expects a dedicated hydrogen infrastructure will begin development this decade, leading to an interconnected transport infrastructure to all parts of Europe “around 2040”.

“Hydrogen is crucial to ensuring that Europe becomes a climate-neutral continent,” said Anthony Wang, a Guidehouse senior consultant and lead author of the report. “This analysis shows that domestic supply potential within the EU and UK exceeds projected hydrogen demand and repurposing the existing gas infrastructure would play a key role in connecting hydrogen supply and demand locations.”

The European Commissioner for Energy, Ms Kadri Simson, expressed support for the study as a welcome contribution to the debate on an EU hydrogen economy and as useful input for the legislative proposals being prepared by the Commission. She also noted a shared view on combining Europe’s supply potential, highlighting co-operation with Morocco and Ukraine on developing projects and promoting cross-border trade.

“Only through developing a shared vision and goals for an EU hydrogen ecosystem, we can make sure that the EU will lead in building the hydrogen economy for a global clean energy transition,” she added.
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