In 2050, Poland may become one of the most competitive producers of green hydrogen in the European Union. In addition, we could export it to other countries, using the already existing infrastructure – e.g. the Yamal gas pipeline.
According to analysts from the Polish Economic Institute (PIE), in the next three decades Poland could become a very competitive producer of green hydrogen. The production of hydrogen based on energy from onshore wind energy would be particularly economically advantageous in Poland. The average cost of energy would be in the range of approx. 2.33 to 3 euro per kilogram of hydrogen and approx. 70-92 euro for one megawatt hour (MWh), according to economists from the Polish think tank.
A more expensive option would be hydrogen generated by photovoltaic power plants. Its price would be over EUR 4 per kilogram and about EUR 123-129 per 1 MWh.
If we were to rely on wind energy in the development of hydrogen production and we would produce this renewable gas at an average cost of EUR 2.6 per kilogram and EUR 78 per megawatt hour, Poland, along with Sweden, Croatia and Ireland, would be one of the most competitive hydrogen producers in the EU.
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Green hydrogen will replace Russian gas
Hydrogen is set to play a central role in the long-term strategy to cut off fossil fuel supplies to the EU, replacing up to a third of Russian gas supplies to the EU, PIE said.
By 2030 – that is, in the next few years – about 20.6 million tons of hydrogen will replace 25 to 50 billion cubic meters of Russian gas annually in the energy sector.
At the same time, it should be “green” hydrogen, i.e. produced in a non-emission manner. The electrolysers used to obtain hydrogen are therefore to be powered by renewable energy. The gas is to be imported into the EU or produced in the territory of the Community.
– The persistently high natural gas prices in Europe will continue to increase the relative profitability of its renewable substitutes. The average gas prices at the Dutch TTF hub in the first quarter of 2022 were EUR 100.8 per 1 MWh , PIE economists indicate.
So they were over 5 times higher than in the corresponding period of 2021. and compared to the first quarter of 2020, as much as 10 times higher.
With gas prices above EUR 133 / MWh, green hydrogen may become a cheaper fuel than natural gas.
Importantly, Poland has a very important role to play in the development of the hydrogen market. It may be a transit country to the Baltic states and Finland (after 2030) as well as the Visegrad Group countries and Romania (after 2040).
Reduce, reuse, recycle in practice
The starting point for cooperation may be the agreement signed between the Polish, Romanian, Slovak and Hungarian gas transmission system operators. According to the estimates of these operators, associated in the European Hydrogen Backbone initiative, achieving the ambitious goals of the EU energy policy ( REPowerEU) will only be possible with the implementation of a dedicated transmission network intended for international hydrogen transmission on the EU internal market.
For this purpose, it will be necessary to build new infrastructure or adapt the existing one for gas transmission. This will require some adjustments – hydrogen has different physical properties than methane, which translates into about 20 percent. lower capacity of hydrogen gas pipelines.
However, it is quite possible to adapt some of the existing gas pipelines, compressor stations and reduction and measurement stations for the needs of hydrogen transport, previously used for the transmission of natural gas.
Moreover, it is also more profitable than building a completely new infrastructure. Assuming the assumptions of the authors of the European Hydrogen Backbone reports, which are referred to by PIE analysts, only for Poland it would mean savings of around EUR 1.6 billion.
To transport hydrogen, Poland could use the part of the Yamal gas pipeline located on its territory and the Poland-Lithuania gas pipeline.
In terms of the estimated costs of building green hydrogen transport infrastructure, it would be over EUR 1.47 billion if the West-East pipeline had to be built from scratch, and around EUR 0.5 billion in the case of transport to the Baltic States. Adaptation of the Yamal and Poland-Lithuania gas pipelines would cost, on the other hand, EUR 263 million and EUR 90 million , i.e. it would be 80 percent. cheaper than the new design.
Also, the fact that the Polish part of the Yamal pipeline is owned by Russian entities does not have to be an obstacle. As PIE analysts believe:
– The example of the takeover by the German Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) of the management of the strategic assets of Gazprom Germania GmbH shows that the current Polish-Russian ownership structure of the Polish section of the Yamal gas pipeline does not have to prevent the development of this infrastructure (…). This would also allow the Polish section of the Yamal pipeline to be used in the event of the withdrawal from Russian gas supplies to the EU.
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