European gas industry players call for hydrogen blending in gas networks

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Over 90 gas industry stakeholders have called the European Commission to recognise the role of hydrogen blending in existing networks as a transitional solution.

In an open letter to Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, CEOs and other senior figures from the industry state the existing gas transmission and distribution networks will be an essential enabling factor in the transition to hydrogen.

“The retrofitting and repurposing of existing gas networks can be combined and complemented with the construction of new dedicated hydrogen infrastructure, so that three hydrogen deployment options can co-exist where needed,” they write.

Benefits they point to include allowing for build-up of hydrogen production capacity, decarbonised energy for gas consumers and earlier and larger greenhouse gas reduction, as well as the integration of intermittent renewables and short-term flexibility provision.

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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, they say.

The letter states that hydrogen admixtures in the gas network should be properly recognised within the European energy regulatory framework in order to enable its rollout.

“A robust system of certificates/guarantees of origin would allow monetisation of hydrogen injected while reducing the need for public support. Additionally, to facilitate intra-EU cross-border trade of gas blends, concrete interoperability measures at technical and commercial levels would be required.”

The letter follows the EU’s Hydrogen Strategy, which was released in July 2020 and proposes a phased approach to scaling up hydrogen production and use.

In the first phase up to 2024 at least 6GW of electrolysers and the production of up to 1Mt of green hydrogen is proposed, decarbonising current uses such as in the chemicals sector.

In the second phase up to 2030 hydrogen should become an intrinsic part of the energy system, with at least 40GW of renewable hydrogen electrolysers and the production of up to 10Mt in the EU. In this phase hydrogen use would be expanded to other sectors such as steel making and road and rail transport.

Then beyond 2030, green hydrogen would be deployed at large scale across the hard to decarbonise sectors such as shipping and aviation.

A recent study in the UK found that hydrogen blending and deblending could provide a means to transition from a 20% to a 100% hydrogen network in that country.