German Hydrogen Council: Pipelines Most Economical Way to Move Hydrogen

By Maddy McCarty, P&GJ Digital Editor

Germany’s National Hydrogen Council determined pipeline transport is the most economical option to move hydrogen for distances up to about 10,000 km (6,213 mi), even if it would require building new pipelines.

The council adopted that position in a paper using information in the “European Hydrogen Backbone” study, which determines transportation prices of about 0.16 €/kg (19 cents/kg) per 1,000 km (621 mi).

NOW GmbH shared the National Hydrogen Council’s position in a news release, where NOW GmbH said transportation of hydrogen plays a central role in the swift development of a market-based hydrogen economy in Germany.

The interregional hydrogen transportation will connect producers and consumers and connect the German hydrogen market into the greater European hydrogen network.

The European Hydrogen Backbone report was published in July 2020. It visualizes 11,600 km (7,207 mi) of hydrogen pipeline by 2030 and 39,700 km (24,668 mi) of hydrogen pipeline by 2040, with 69% converted from natural gas pipelines.

The German National Hydrogen Council estimates the 0.16 €/kg per 1,000 km hydrogen transportation price based on a significant proportion of converted natural gas pipelines in the planned system and almost fully utilized pipelines, the NOW GmbH news release states. At the beginning, low rates of pipeline utilization will lead to higher transport costs for the first customers, which should be cushioned via state support, NOW GmbH said.

“The use of existing infrastructure reduces system costs, accelerates realization, avoids environmental interventions at the sites and thus also contributes to an increase in social acceptance,” the news release states.

Denmark’s Energinet and the Netherlands’ Gasunie revealed similar findings in a technical pre-feasibility study for transporting hydrogen via a 350-450 km (217-279 mi) pipeline from Esbjerg or Holstebro in Denmark to Hamburg in Germany.

The study shows that such a connection can be established in a stepwise and cost-efficient fashion by repurposing existing gas pipelines, the companies said. Gasunie and Energinet want to initiate a market dialogue and unlock the export potential for green hydrogen from Denmark to demand centers in Germany.

Another potential German hydrogen pipeline in the works is the AquaDuctus pipeline project, which would transport green hydrogen from the North Sea directly to the continent. GASCADE, Gasunie, RWE and Shell have "signed a declaration of intent to further intensify their collaboration” on the project, which is the vision for the first German offshore hydrogen pipeline.

An assessment by TÜV Nord shows the use of existing natural gas pipelines for the safe transport of hydrogen is principally feasible., NOW GmbH said.

“A corresponding conversion from natural gas to hydrogen has already been demonstrated, among other things, using a natural gas pipeline in the south-west of the Netherlands,” the news release said.

The paper on hydrogen transportation options and conditions is available in German here.

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