Three hydrogen imports corridors have been prioritised by the REPowerEU plan. Hydrogen can be imported via pipelines, as well via ship, to planned, new or repurposed import terminals.
The corridors will initially connect local supply and demand in different parts of Europe in parallel to expanding and connecting Europe with neighbouring regions with export potential.
Transport options for hydrogen include new dedicated pipelines or repurposing existing pipelines, while shipping of carriers covers ammonia, liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHC), liquid hydrogen, methanol and synthetic methane.
Three pipeline corridors would cover the North Sea (capitalising on renewable/wind sources), Mediterranean (solar/wind from North Africa) and Ukraine (access to eastern and south-east Europe).
Hydrogen import capacity across all corridors could reach 53MT in the long term, and up to 13.8MT by 2030.
But with most gas infrastructure operating at full capacity to compensate shortages, it is “uncertain” to have gas pipelines and LNG terminal in the short term.
Certification requires consistent implementation across markets from the start, and clarity across the value chain.
Permitting for import projects needs Use of Projects of Mutal Interest (PMI) to accelerate cross-border infrastructure projects, simplifying existing rules to create a ‘one stop shop’ of principles, effective implementation at local and national level, and political willingness and close consultation with relevant stakeholders.
Funding is another key area, since there is no dedicated funding on EU level for imports projects, but existing support mechanisms can help ramp up the hydrogen economy.
Long-term offtake contracts might be needed to make investments bankable in potential export regions and international hydrogen partnerships should be strengthened.