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New Energy World
New Energy World embraces the whole energy industry as it connects and converges to address the decarbonisation challenge. It covers progress being made across the industry, from the dynamics under way to reduce emissions in oil and gas, through improvements to the efficiency of energy conversion and use, to cutting-edge initiatives in renewable and low carbon technologies.
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.