Europe supports Ukraine in hydrogen energy development

Ukraine is seen as one of Europe’s most important partners in the future development of hydrogen energy. This was stated by Deputy Minister of Energy Yulia Pidkomornaya during a presentation of the Ministry of Energy’s developments in the field of hydrogen energy development at a meeting of the board of Hydrogen Europe, the topic of which was Ukraine’s Hydrogen Strategy, according to the department’s press service.

“Despite the conflict, Ukraine continues to pursue plans for novel energy technologies in particular, as well as the development of hydrogen energy.” Ukraine is seen as one of Europe’s most important partners in the future development of hydrogen energy. “I am confident that hydrogen will play a significant part in the creation of a clean, carbon-free economy,” Podkomornaya stated.

The working committee is now working to finalize Ukraine’s hydrogen strategy

The paper will serve as the foundation for implementing the state’s hydrogen handling strategy, which will be based on EU strategic documents. The strategy will outline the possibilities for developing and operating infrastructure for major hydrogen transit, as well as establishing a hub for storing hydrogen and moving it by water, rail, and freight.

The Hydrogen Strategy’s developments were well received by the gathering attendees. They suggested that the discussion on the document’s creation and subsequent implementation in conformity with European standards be continued.

Ukraine’s economy is in shambles. Before the Russian invasion, the eastern zone, now captured or a theater of conflict was a region rich in industrial and energy production. It had steel industries and ports. According to the World Bank, the Ukrainian economy would contract by roughly 50% this year. Hundreds of billions of euros are believed to have been lost in infrastructure, industry, and agriculture. So, even if Kyiv wins or draws this fight with Moscow, what does the nation have in store?

Brussels and Washington have pledged to help reconstruct the country following the fighting. In Kyiv, many hope for a grand “Marshall plan” for the country, similar to the one that pulled Europe out of the Second World War quagmire. They are confident that it will arrive once the peace treaty is completed.

The Ukrainian government is searching for initiatives that may be implemented right away in this area. It is also in the process of negotiating a cooperation deal with Brussels to invest in green hydrogen, renewable energy that would be transferred to the European Union using the same upgraded gas pipes that formerly carried Russian gas.

“It may have been before the conflict, but now it is a need, given Russia’s energy dependence and Gazprom’s cutoff of gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria,” says Oleksandr Riepkin, a representative of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Special for Economic Diplomacy. “The stench of Ukrainian blood is in Russian oil and gas,” the ambassador said via videoconference from Brussels.

A quest for green hydrogen is part of Europe’s energy plan. Energy may be stored in the form of H2 and O2 from surplus solar power by electrolysis of water with renewable energy.

“Europe published a strategic plan a year ago to create 80 GW of this energy, but it can only produce 40 GW within its borders, for a variety of reasons, including the high cost of land,” adds the Ukrainian delegate. He promises that this is not an issue in his nation, which also has multiple ready-to-use gas pipes that can be converted to transport green hydrogen.

Hydrogen can be stored in huge batteries, making it less reliant on supply swings caused by weather-dependent sources like wind or solar energy. Brussels sees it as critical to reaching the goal of a climate-neutral European Union by 2050.

Hydrogen now accounts for less than 2% of Europe’s current energy use, and it is mostly generated with natural gas, which produces substantial CO2. The European Commission approved a new dedicated hydrogen policy in 2020 to boost research, innovation, manufacturing, and infrastructure throughout Europe.

The Russian gas embargo

As a response to Moscow’s murderous attack, the European Commission is working on the sixth package of sanctions against Russia, which includes an assessment of whether a ban on Russian oil imports should be included. Imports of Russian coal were previously included in the fifth package, which went into effect in April. The major nations, particularly Germany, are attempting to minimize their reliance on Russian energy. “By the summer, Russian coal supplies will be gone; gas, perhaps by mid-2024, and an oil embargo would be tolerable in the meanwhile,” stated Wolfgang Dold, Germany’s ambassador to Spain, on Twitter on Thursday. Berlin advises a gradual, rather than a sudden, reduction in reliance.

According to estimations by the Energy and Clean Air Research Center, EU nations have purchased 44 billion euros worth of fossil fuels from Russia since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, accounting for 71% of all hydrocarbon sales in the previous two months (CREA).

Germany (9.1 billion euros), Italy (6.9 billion), the Netherlands (5.6 billion), and France (5.6 billion) are the top European importers (3.8 billion).

In this context, Kyiv has presented Brussels with a green hydrogen production capacity plan in the hopes of luring the EU to invest in Ukraine as “Europe’s next green hydrogen center,” according to Riepkin. They want to have the project ready to go as soon as the conflict is over and reconstruction can begin.