The race to harness the potential of hydrogen as a clean energy carrier is in full swing, with ambitious projects unfolding across Europe.
In the United Kingdom, the HyNet project, poised to become the largest clean hydrogen initiative in the country, is advancing rapidly, while Germany faces potential delays in a green hydrogen facility. This article explores the progress, challenges, and prospects of these pivotal ventures, shedding light on the evolving hydrogen landscape in Europe.
HyNet, a groundbreaking clean hydrogen project located in Stanlow, England, is making significant strides toward its goal of producing 1 GW of blue hydrogen by 2026. Blue hydrogen is generated through the reforming of natural gas, accompanied by the capture and storage of the resulting carbon dioxide.
Vertex Hydrogen, the lead developer of the HyNet project, reports that all essential components are “moving at pace.” However, a crucial caveat remains—interim arrangements are imperative to ensure the timely establishment of hydrogen pipelines and storage facilities ahead of the project’s launch. These interim measures are essential for a seamless transition into full-scale hydrogen production.
While HyNet progresses, the broader European hydrogen landscape faces challenges. One notable concern is the anticipated slower maturation of hydrogen pipelines in the region. Greig Boulstridge, a research associate at technology consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, attributes this delay to two primary factors—project cost inflation and the challenge of finding offtakers for hydrogen.
Project cost inflation has been a common hurdle in the energy sector, and the hydrogen industry is no exception. The complexities of building and maintaining hydrogen infrastructure, coupled with evolving safety and regulatory requirements, can contribute to increased project costs. This phenomenon underscores the need for meticulous planning and strategic investments to ensure the economic viability of hydrogen projects.
Finding offtakers, or entities willing to purchase and utilize hydrogen, presents another obstacle. The hydrogen market is still evolving, and potential customers may be cautious about transitioning to this new energy carrier. As the industry matures and hydrogen gains broader acceptance, this challenge is expected to diminish. However, it remains a significant concern for current projects.
In parallel to HyNet’s progress, Germany is navigating potential delays in a green hydrogen project. Linde, an industrial gases firm, had planned a 24 MW green hydrogen facility in Leuna, Germany. Recent reports suggest that the project might face delays due to a redesign, although Linde has not officially commented on the matter.
ITM Power, a company specializing in electrolyzers used to produce hydrogen through water electrolysis, is a supplier to Linde. While ITM Power refrained from commenting on the Leuna project, it noted that its overall activities are proceeding according to the CEO’s plan outlined in December.
Despite the challenges faced by Europe’s hydrogen industry, optimism prevails among hydrogen technology firms in the region. Werner Ponikwar, CEO of Thyssenkrupp Nucera, an electrolyzer manufacturer, emphasized the enduring trend toward large-volume use of green hydrogen as an energy carrier in energy-intensive industries worldwide. In a recent press release, Ponikwar stated that the firm is actively recruiting to meet the growing demand for hydrogen projects.
The European hydrogen landscape may encounter hurdles, but the collective determination to harness the potential of clean hydrogen as a key player in the energy transition remains unwavering. As projects like HyNet and Linde’s facility advance, they contribute to the broader goal of a sustainable, hydrogen-powered future.