More than 90 energy companies, equipment manufacturers and gas network operators have called on the European Commission to consider hydrogen blending into natural gas for parts of Europe that cannot yet afford a dedicated hydrogen network.
In their joint letter, the industry CEOs highlight the importance of hydrogen blending as a transitional solution for Southern and Eastern EU regions, which do not have an extensive gas infrastructure that can be repurposed to carry pure hydrogen.
Countries in North-West Europe – Belgium, the Netherlands, and the industrialised core of France and Germany – are planning to move directly towards a dedicated hydrogen network, based on the repurposing of existing gas assets, according to Euractiv.com.
But the gas network is not as tight in many Southern and Eastern EU regions, where blending can offer a transitional step to scale up hydrogen production on a decentralised generation model, the coalition argues.
“Hydrogen blending can be an especially cost-effective transitional option in those European regions without parallel or duplicated networks, or without (potentially) available gas infrastructure capacity, which can be easily repurposed to hydrogen in the short-term,” the letter says.
Signatories include energy utilities like Enagas, EnBW and Naturgy as well as turbine manufacturers such as General Electric and Baker Hughes. Others include heating appliances manufacturers like Bosch, Viessman and Vaillant, hydrogen fuel cell manufacturers (Hexis, Sunfire) as well as electrolyser manufacturers (ITM Power, Lhyfe).
The letter has also gathered support from gas network operators from 15 different EU member states. In France, only the distribution network operator has joined, reflecting the coalition’s focus on smaller-scale, distributed hydrogen production.
“There are a lot of solar and wind farms developed across Europe, which are not always close to consumption centres,” said an industry source who briefed EURACTIV about the signatories’ intentions. Some of those are looking to diversify their revenues and hydrogen could offer a solution, the source explained.
“Whilst blending is expected to be a transitional solution, it has multiple advantages,” the letter argues, saying hydrogen injection into gas transmission and distribution pipelines provides renewable and low-carbon energy to consumers currently connected to the gas grid.
“Using gas-hydrogen blends in the short and medium term achieves a larger GHG reduction at a lower systemic cost than by using only new dedicated infrastructure to deliver hydrogen,” the letter says.
“It allows for building-up hydrogen production capacity and developing economies of scale that will foster a positive business case for the transition to a hydrogen system.”