The European Union is set to provide enormous subsidies for a proposed hydrogen pipeline that would stretch from Bavaria, through Austria and Italy, to North Africa.
The project, called the “South Corridor,” was initiated by three ministers who sent a corresponding application to Brussels. The goal is to transport green hydrogen produced in Tunisia, Egypt, and Algeria to Europe. However, the proposal has raised several questions, including concerns about the reliability of the supplier countries, and whether the hydrogen will truly be green.
The South Corridor project aims to lay a hydrogen pipeline from Bavaria, through Austria, Italy, and the Mediterranean to North Africa, specifically to hydrogen production sites in Tunisia, Egypt, and Algeria. Large wind and photovoltaic parks would also need to be built in these countries. The project has been labeled a “project of common interest” by the EU Commission, which allows for substantial EU subsidies. The pipeline would transport green hydrogen, which is produced using renewable energy sources and is considered to be a key component of the EU’s plans to achieve carbon neutrality.
However, there are several challenges associated with the project. The reliability of the supplier countries is questionable, with Tunisia, Egypt, and Algeria being proven authoritarian and unstable nations. Moreover, transporting hydrogen from Egypt through Libya, which is still an unsafe nation, raises concerns about the safety of the pipeline. Additionally, the project’s ability to deliver green hydrogen remains in doubt. Algeria and Egypt are known to have abundant natural gas reserves, which can be used to produce hydrogen. Natural gas is currently used to produce over 90% of the hydrogen used globally.
Furthermore, the companies involved in the South Corridor project – Snam (Italy), TAG and GCA (Austria), and Bayernnetz (Germany) – have so far operated primarily on a fossil-profit basis. The continuation of the fossil energy monopoly with hydrogen has raised questions about the true sustainability of the project.