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New Energy World magazine logo
New Energy World magazine logo
ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

Europe’s gas grid could gain new life in a hydrogen economy


6 min read

Loop of gas pipelines crossing grassy field Photo: NAM
Natural gas pipelines in Europe may be used in the future to transport hydrogen from its manufacturing sources to major users

Photo: NAM

As Europe turns towards decarbonisation, parts of its vast gas grid could find a new lease of life in transporting hydrogen instead. Energy journalist Karolin Schaps investigates how plausible the task of repurposing old gas pipelines is and, if it is a no-brainer, why conversion is not taking place more quickly.

In a bid to decarbonise its industries and to permanently cut energy import ties with Russia, the European Union (EU) wants to produce and import 20mn tonnes of renewable hydrogen by 2030. Since green hydrogen electrolysers will need be located near often remote large-scale wind farms and solar parks, and the imported green fuel will have to be distributed across the continent, transporting the gaseous fuel to demand centres will be crucial to the success of the hydrogen economy.


Playing into the EU’s hands here is its vast existing gas grid. As the continent strives to become carbon neutral by mid-century, its nations are slowly but surely phasing out gas use and therefore gas infrastructure is at risk of eventually becoming obsolete. This is where the nascent hydrogen market looks to come to the rescue of old pipelines as a number of studies and test cases have shown that gas infrastructure can be adapted to safely transporting hydrogen with little effort.


‘We have had very positive results for converting the existing gas infrastructure to hydrogen. Most of the components are suitable,’ says Julio Garcia-Navarro, Project Coordinator of the HyDelta project, a Dutch public-private partnership testing the potential for transporting hydrogen in gas infrastructure.


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