Russia to supply Europe with hydrogen without Ukraine


Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to demonstrate Europe that his country is “preparing for changes in the energy industry, not sheltering in a cave with its oil and gas.”

This is how experts judge Vladimir Putin’s duty of thoroughly researching the problem of exporting hydrogen to the EU using existing pipelines. Ukraine had already expressed its willingness to supply this fuel to the EU. Is there a prospect for Kiev to get a slice of the hydrogen pie?

President Vladimir Putin has directed the government, in collaboration with Gazprom and the Foreign Ministry, to work out the details of the possibility of exporting hydrogen to EU countries as part of a methane-hydrogen mixture using existing pipeline systems, as well as the recognition of such hydrogen as meeting EU taxonomy requirements. By June 1, 2022, the report must be filed.

Methane-hydrogen mixture is an environmentally beneficial fuel that is made out of natural gas with 5–10 percent hydrogen added to the mix. It is expected to serve as a bridge fuel between gas and hydrogen, according to the EU.

Putin’s comment is addressed not just at Russia and Gazprom, but also at other entities, particularly the EU, which, at least in its declarations, is counting on the use of hydrogen in the future. “I believe Putin illustrates that we recognize global and European energy trends, that we hear plans for an energy transition, and that we are aware of the threats that exist.” That Russia, rather than sheltering in a cave with its oil and gas, is preparing for changes in the energy industry. If a need for a methane-hydrogen combination as a transitional fuel from gas to hydrogen exists in Europe, Russia will be willing to provide it. If Europe wants hydrogen, Russia may export methane or produce it at home and deliver it to the EU. The essential implication of Putin’s statement is that Russia has a wide variety of possibilities.

So yet, neither the building of a specific hydrogen generating facility nor the upgrade of gas pipes has been mentioned. There is currently no market for methane-hydrogen mixtures in Europe; these are simply declared plans for the future. Russia, on the other hand, is prepared to investigate the technological and economic feasibility of delivering such an intermediate fuel to European customers. Experts were divided on this subject. Gas pipes, according to some, might be converted to transport hydrogen. Others believe it is untenable from a financial standpoint. For example, Konstantin Romanov, the general director of Gazprom Hydrogen, has stated that the transportation of a methane-hydrogen combination was deemed unprofitable even during preliminary tests. He believes so.

But, if transporting the methane-hydrogen combination to Europe is profitable, which gas pipeline will handle it? Five gas pipelines connect Russia and Europe in total. These are “Nord Stream – 1” and “Nord Stream – 2,” which are both finished and even filled with technical gas, and are just waiting for the appropriate approval paperwork to go into service. There’s also the Turkish Stream, which provides water to Southern Europe. Two other gas pipelines, Yamal – Europe and the Ukrainian GTS, are the principal critics of Gazprom and opponents of Nord Stream 2. They do not belong to Gazprom, but to Poland (partially) and Ukraine.

Most likely, no decision has been taken on which gas pipeline will be utilized to transport the methane-hydrogen combination to Europe. Yamal-Europe and the Ukrainian GTS, on the other hand, have the slimmest odds, according to Yushkov. First, Gazprom has no authority over these pipes, and negotiating with Poles or Ukrainians about anything is exceedingly tough. Second, the identical Ukrainian pipe is older and longer, implying that modernizing it for a methane-hydrogen combination will cost more money. Even the current pipeline for pumping gas in Ukraine is in need of modernization, and no one wants to invest in it.

“Gazprom sees the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline and the Ukrainian pipeline as balancing gas pipelines,” says the company. That is, first and foremost, Gazprom will fill its own pipelines with fundamental gas amounts.

  • both the “Nord Streams” and the “Turkish Stream,” with the rest going to Yamal – Europe and Ukraine. Furthermore, if demand in Europe falls, the amount of pumping along these two lines will fall, according to the source.

The decision by Gazprom to build three of its own gas pipelines will be based on European demand. The Turkish Stream, on the other hand, is losing ground. To begin with, unlike the EU, Turkey has not yet discussed the construction of a hydrogen program. “Second, southern European nations will obviously give less money to all of these climate projects.” Bulgaria, Greece, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Hungary, who are fed by the Turkish Stream, are unlikely to be concerned about power plant turbine conversion to a methane-hydrogen combination. The nations of Western Europe, where Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 originate, would most likely be the first to do so, according to Yushkov.

This summer, Matthias Warnig, the executive director of the project business Nord Stream 2 AG, stated that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline will be ready to carry the methane-hydrogen combination in the next decade.

It’s yet unclear what amounts of methane-hydrogen combination supplies will be addressed, given there isn’t even a market for such a fuel in the EU. The methane-hydrogen combination will most likely be transported via one of the four Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipes. Each of the four lines has a 27.5 billion cubic meter yearly gas pumping capacity.

Unlike Russia, which wants to avoid dealing with the Ukrainian gas pipeline as much as possible owing to strained ties with Kiev, Ukraine views the hydrogen future as a way to maintain the value of its gas transportation system.

The Ukrainian Gas Transmission System Operator even signed a pact with gas carriers from Germany (OGE), the Czech Republic (NET4GAS), and Slovakia (EUSTREAM) in September to establish the Central European Hydrogen Corridor, which would connect Ukraine and southern Germany. In a few decades, experts predict that Germany will become Europe’s primary market for “green” hydrogen. Green hydrogen is a clean fuel made from renewable energy sources.

Ukraine’s aspirations of Russia producing hydrogen and transporting it through Ukraine to Europe will not be realized. Because of the longer route and older pipelines, driving hydrogen through the Ukrainian GTS is less lucrative for Gazprom. Furthermore, it will be required to deal with Ukrainian officials, which appears to be difficult in today’s environment. It’s also unclear if Ukraine will be able to find enough money in Europe to update its pipeline in order to meet its hydrogen demands.

If Ukraine wants to generate hydrogen and sell it to Europe, it must first invest in the development of hydrogen manufacturing capacity. The second step is to locate raw materials for hydrogen synthesis. “Generating hydrogen from methane is scarcely a promising proposition for Ukraine.” Because Ukraine does not have enough gas on its own. “The country generates around 20 billion cubic meters of gas and uses approximately 30 billion cubic meters,” says a FNEB analyst.

Electricity generated by nuclear power stations, of which Ukraine has numerous, may be used to manufacture hydrogen. The difficulty is that the country does not produce its own electricity and must rely on imports. Furthermore, nuclear power plants in Ukraine are not new and are nearing the end of their useful lives.

Ukraine has just one last option: create hydrogen production utilizing renewable energy sources (RES), or “green” hydrogen. In an ideal world, this is the type of hydrogen that the European Union would utilize.

“The issue is that Europeans want to create their own wind turbines, solar panels, and green hydrogen generators. “They will not import it as long as there is space for renewable energy sources, and Europe will not be completely built up with renewable energy sources at first,” says Yushkov. Only if “green” hydrogen from Ukraine was cheaper than in Europe would it be in demand. Yushkov, on the other hand, doubts that Ukraine would be able to manufacture low-cost power in order to export cheap hydrogen.

The biggest argument against Ukraine’s hydrogen fantasy is that the nation is energy poor in all areas – gas, coal, oil, and oil products, to name a few. Although its position on hydrocarbons was initially far better than that of several surrounding European nations, it has since deteriorated.

Arnes Biogradlija
Creative Content Director at EnergyNews.Biz

Oracle Power preliminary study for green hydrogen completed

Previous article

GeelongPort constructs Geelong Hydrogen Hub

Next article

You may also like

More in Europe


Comments are closed.