India has been internationally recognized as one of the countries able to bring down the cost for green hydrogen production from around 4 USD/kg today to around 1 USD/kg until 2030. On the other hand, countries like Germany are well aware that they will remain a net importer of energy also in a hydrogen dominated world. Will India be able to export green hydrogen to Europe? Which costs are involved in long distance transport but also last mile delivery of hydrogen? Is any corresponding port infrastructure already under development? Are dedicated pipelines of more than 3000 km length considered to be viable? To answer these salient questions, the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce (IGCC) and the Indo-German Energy Forum (IGEF) Support Office organized a knowledge session on “Transport of Green Hydrogen” on 26 August 2021.
Dr. Stephan Hesselmann, Economic Minister Counsellor from the German Embassy and Ms. Sonia Prashar, Deputy Director General at IGCC initiated the session by confirming Germany’s requirement as a net importer of energy. With 5 GW of electrolyser capacity planned until 2030, additional green hydrogen would need to be imported. Dr. Hesselmann emphasized on the diversification of the energy mix as an imperative step towards the official goal of Germany to become climate neutral by 2045. So far, the Government of Germany has committed funds for 9 billion Euros to support an upcoming green hydrogen economy with 2 billion Euros being committed for international projects. German investors into green hydrogen production facilities in India are eligible for funding. But how and at which cost green hydrogen may be transported to Europe remain challenging questions.
Mr. Matthias Schimmel from Guidehouse pointed out that energy should ideally be transported in the form in which it is required by the demand side to avoid conversion losses. Repurposed natural gas pipelines tend to be the most cost-efficient hydrogen transport alternative also for long distance transport. For very long distances (of above 3000 km), ships have been economically more viable. But in absence of a viable technology for hydrogen transport via ship, hydrogen would have to be converted into derivatives such as ammonia or special e-fuels also called liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHCs). Ammonia has the advantage that it is already traded internationally and can also be used to fuel the ship itself.
However, the reconversion or cracking of ammonia back into nitrogen and hydrogen is relatively inefficient and has not yet been tested on an industrial scale. Therefore, hydrogen exports to Europe may become ammonia exports to avoid conversion losses. LOHC has low conversion costs, but typically consumes more fuel for shipping as it is heavier than ammonia and the carrier material must be shipped back unused.
The final choice of the most viable carrier solution also determines which storage facilities must be integrated into the port infrastructure. The port of Hamburg has been a vital part of Germany’s and wider European inter-continental trade flows. Located in the vicinity of heavy industry producing steel, aluminium and copper, there is great potential in utilizing green hydrogen. Ms. Karin Debacher from the Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) presented on their role as a transporter of hydrogen but also as a consumer of hydrogen. Apart from battery power vehicles already in place, hydrogen and fuel cell technology in port vehicles is currently under development. The harbour has developed a strategy to become climate neutral by 2040.
Ms. Debacher stressed the importance of resilient partnerships as HHLA comes together with Airbus to make the hydrogen economy a reality. Mr. Joerg Bargest from EVOS Hamburg also emphasized the importance of the early involvement of multiple stakeholders. As an international storage provider with a combined storage capacity of 2.5 million m3 at 4 different port facilities in Europe, EVOS is already developing storage capacities for ammonia, methanol and LOHC. Security and environmental risk assessment as well as related permission processes for new liquid fuels are found to be a new challenge.
Mr. Volker Wilms from Oiltanking Deutschland confirmed that it is technically possible to have large-scale hydrogen storage capacities, but that costs and safety risks are the most important factors to take into consideration. For the storage of pure hydrogen, the cost for cooling or pressurizing infrastructure is relatively high and significant security risks remain in comparison to its derivatives, LOHC or e-fuels. The observations from Oiltanking document that LOHC’s and e-fuels are way safer and associated costs are multiple times less.
Mr. Anish Paunwala, Director Business Development, Large Investment and H2 Projects at Linde India especially focused on the last mile delivery of hydrogen. He emphasized the importance of actual landed costs at the final consumer besides the often talked about production costs of hydrogen. The main cost components in the hydrogen value chain apart from the production cost itself are conditioning of H2 via compression or liquefaction, the cost for distribution via truck at a working pressure of around 500 bar and the costs associated with the refuelling process.
The costs for transport and de-hydrogenation in the case of LOHC are usually higher than the cost for the green hydrogen production itself.
Mr. Jonas Schneemeier from Fichtner Consulting confirmed the importance of infrastructure to enable a green hydrogen economy. Blending of 2, 10 and 20% of hydrogen with natural gas in existing pipeline networks is possible based on a case-by-case evaluation. If connected to car filling stations for CNG it may be restricted to 2%. For large parts of the network, 10% have been tested and found feasible. For higher blending rates tests are ongoing and identified thresholds must be integrated into standards. The levelized transportation costs for hydrogen in mainly repurposed natural gas pipelines are estimated to lay between 0.11-0.21 Euro/kg. More expensive are dedicated hydrogen pipelines converted or newly build for point-to-point supply or local networks. Ideally, these pipelines should be planned in proximity to cavern storage sites. Existing cavern storage sites used for natural gas are currently being tested in Germany for their suitability to store hydrogen.
All presentations of the knowledge sessions can be downloaded from the link below. Videos can be found on IGEF YouTube channel https://youtu.be/ewGgqxPjfyo. Fuel Cell India, India’s first magazine for the hydrogen economy, was the exclusive media partner of this knowledge session on the transport of green hydrogen.
Recordings of all presentations are available here.
Matthias Schimmel (Guidehouse) Long-distance transport of green hydrogen
Karin Debacher (Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG, HHLA) Hamburg harbor to become a European hydrogen hub
Joerg Bargest (EVOS Hamburg) Harbor infrastructure for a global green hydrogen economy
Volker Wilms (Oiltanking Deutschland) Large scale storage infrastructure for green hydrogen
Anish Paunwala (Linde India) Last mile delivery of green hydrogen
Jonas Schneemeier (Fichtner Consulting) Infrastructure enabling a green hydrogen economy