European Hydrogen Backbone Initiative develops a vision for hydrogen infrastructure

The European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB) is evolving to meet the 2030 hydrogen targets of the REPowerEU Roadmap. The initiative is currently developing a vision of 28,000 km of hydrogen infrastructure in 2030 and 53,000 km of infrastructure in 2040, with 28 European countries already part of the project.

The EHB initiative offers its solutions to accelerate the deployment of integrated hydrogen and gas infrastructure, ensure greater energy security and meet the European Union's renewable energy targets.

In the light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, European countries have an obligation to achieve greater energy independence from Russian fossil energy sources. Geopolitical developments in Europe have accelerated interest in decarbonising energy sources to phase out Europe's dependence on Russian fossil fuels well before 2030 and increase the resilience of the EU-wide energy system.

REPowerEU offers an updated vision for a wider hydrogen transport target of 15 million tonnes (Mt) of renewable hydrogen, in addition to the 5.6 Mt foreseen under the Fit-for-55 targets and exceeding the EU Hydrogen Strategy targets. To meet the new targets, the development of an integrated gas and hydrogen infrastructure across Europe must be rapidly accelerated. In the light of developments in Europe and the new targets, EHB has accelerated its programme from 2035 to 2030. A vision for a hydrogen network of around 53,000 km by 2040 is proposed, with further growth beyond 2040. The network, which reflects the vision of 31 European operators of energy, hydrogen storage facilities and port infrastructure, covers 28 European countries and creates a diverse set of hydrogen import options. The launched vision follows EHB reports published in July 2020 and April 2021, and has triggered a surge of industry interest across Europe. Since the initial launch a year and a half ago, 18 new countries have joined EHB's 2040 vision and the length of the planned transmission network has increased by 110%.

Accelerated vision to meet climate ambitions and increase resilience of Europe's energy system

To accelerate the deployment of hydrogen and meet Europe's climate ambition of replacing 25-50 bcm of imported Russian gas per year by 2030, EHB has accelerated its work programme to ensure the 2035 vision is already in place by 2030. The accelerated EHB vision suggests that by 2030, five European hydrogen supply and import corridors of 28,000 km could be established, linking industrial clusters, ports and hydrogen valleys to consuming regions. The EHB vision would help to meet the EC's 2030 target to promote the development of a 20.6 Mt renewable and low-carbon European hydrogen market.

Cost-effective transport of hydrogen through onshore and offshore pipelines

The vision 2040 is to invest €80-143 billion in around 53,000 km of hydrogen infrastructure. Around 60% of existing transmission pipelines are expected to be adapted and around 40% of pipelines, including subsea pipelines, would be newly built. Transporting hydrogen over more than 1000 km along the proposed onshore pipeline would cost on average €0.11-0.21 per kg of hydrogen, making the EHB the most cost-effective option for large-scale, long-distance hydrogen transport. If hydrogen is transported only through underwater pipelines, the cost would be €0.17-0.32 per kg of hydrogen transported per 1000 km.

A stable legal framework is needed

The hydrogen infrastructure maps for 2030 and 2040 reflect the vision of 31 European gas transmission system operators, based on the development of existing infrastructure to meet decarbonisation targets. The final design and timing of the backbone of the hydrogen transmission system depends on hydrogen and natural gas market conditions and the establishment of a stable regulatory framework.

An open initiative

The EHB aims to accelerate Europe's decarbonisation path by defining the critical role of hydrogen infrastructure, based on existing and new pipelines, in the development of a competitive, liquid, pan-European market for renewable energy and low-carbon hydrogen. The initiative aims to promote market competition, security of supply and cross-border cooperation between European countries and their neighbours.