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Slovakia makes initial leap towards hydrogen future

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As Europe strives to wean itself off fossil fuels, a task made more urgent by the need to reduce its reliance on Russian energy, questions regarding the practical implementation of hydrogen’s ecological potential assume the front.

According to gas distributor SPP-D, a pilot project in the Slovak village of Blatná nad Ostrovom demonstrating the safe and effective distribution of hydrogen in existing pipelines with just modest modifications had positive results.

The initiative was initiated by SPP-D in mid-June, and trials will continue through September. If they continue to generate positive results, the distributor expects to blend 5% hydrogen with natural gas by 2025, assuming that the outcomes will continue to be favorable. The proportion will increase to 10% by 2030, and then to over 20% in the following decade.

Mid-August, SPP-D announced on social media that there had been no consumer complaints since the introduction of the project in the community.

According to the business, even the oldest, and thus most dangerous, boilers and stoves were not affected by the green hydrogen produced from renewable energy and utilized in the pilot.

Concerns that hydrogen molecules, which are considerably smaller than gas molecules, would separate from the mixture and leak from the pipelines were unfounded, and examinations on pipeline tightness and mixture homogeneity were positive.

Successful completion of the pilot project might have far-reaching effects on hydrogen use in the country and its aspirations to become a regional leader in hydrogen. Economy Minister Richard Sulk (Freedom and Solidarity) intends to invest €1 billion to increase the production and usage of hydrogen across multiple industries.

The pilot project is also consistent with the EU Commission’s goals, described in the REPowerEU package, to employ green hydrogen to reduce reliance on Russian energy.

REPowerEU, which allocated an additional €200 million for hydrogen research, also intends to adapt the European gas infrastructure for hydrogen mobility.

In the interim, investments in hydrogen are increasing. According to Commission records, there are approximately 750 investments planned before 2030, including initiatives for the generation, transportation, and industrial use of hydrogen.

In the first quarter of 2022, Spain accounted for one-fifth of the world’s green hydrogen projects, second only to the United States.

Nedim Husomanovic

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