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Editorial comment

At World Pipelines we’re paying close attention to pipelines for hydrogen transport, with the view that a hydrogen economy cannot be made a reality without sufficient infrastructure.

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One kilogram of hydrogen gas contains a lot of energy: you get a lot of bang for your buck. Hydrogen gas has a high gravimetric energy density and a low volumetric energy density: this means that it weighs almost nothing and is very energy dense but, per volume, the energy content of hydrogen is a lot lower than that of most other fuels and energy carriers. Storing or using hydrogen at atmospheric pressure and temperature requires a substantial amount of space. This means that hydrogen pipelines will be far more effective than vessels at moving hydrogen gas over short to medium range distances. In cases where hydrogen will be shipped (as hydrogen or its derivatives), it will eventually be distributed on land using hydrogen pipelines, which makes transport via pipelines a critical transportation mode for the gas.1

Over 4300 km of pipelines already exist for hydrogen transportation, with over 90% located in Europe and North America. Rystad Energy estimates that there are about 91 planned hydrogen pipeline projects in the world, totalling 30 300 km and due to come online by around 2035.2

A lot of talk about the subject centres around the idea of being ‘hydrogen-ready’. In mid-May, Italy’s Snam, Trans Austria Gasleitung (TAG), Gas Connect Austria (GCA) and German-based bayernets announced plans to combine hydrogen pipeline projects to create a 3300 km hydrogen-ready corridor. The SoutH2 Corridor will connect North Africa to central Europe, and could deliver 40% of Europe’s imported hydrogen demand by 2030.3 ‘Build it and they will come’ seems to be the aim here: the pipeline is designed to foster the production of renewable hydrogen in North Africa and southern Europe. It is estimated that Africa could produce 30 - 60 million t of hydrogen annually, and export up to two-thirds of that.

Plans for the H2Med pipeline (between France, Spain and Portugal) are a little further along: it is expected to be Europe’s first major hydrogen corridor, carrying 2 million tpy of hydrogen. Germany recently announced it is joining the project.

German energy firm RWE and Norwegian oil and gas producer Equinor signed an MoU in January to develop large-scale energy value chains between Germany and Norway which include renewable generation, hydrogen, and natural gas. The plans include hydrogen pipelines between the two countries.

Liberty Pipes has successfully passed trials to become the first UK producer of pipelines for the safe transportation and storage of hydrogen. Testing specialist Element Materials Technology has confirmed that Liberty’s 42 in. submerged arc welded (SAW) line pipe meets international requirements for hydrogen piping and pipelines. Liberty Pipes is one of only a handful of firms globally to confirm it can meet hydrogen standards.

Turn to p.10 for the special hydrogen section, which opens with World Pipelines correspondent Gordon Cope offering a broad overview of the task of delivering green hydrogen around the world. Vicki Knott at CruxOCM (p.15) compares hydrogen with natural gas. Endress+Hauser (p.17) considers safe blending of hydrogen and natural gas, and tackles accurate measurement of this tricky element. Finally, Atmos International (p.23) explores the sustainability challenges of hydrogen transportation.


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