Large-scale importing of green hydrogen is both cost effective and technically feasible, a study has found.
On 27 January, the Hydrogen Import Coalition published a report where they detailed their findings, having explored importing renewable energy by means of hydrogen carriers to Belgium, covering all steps of the value chain. When delivered to Belgium, costs were found to range from €65-90/MWh by 2030 to 2035, with the potential to fall to €55-75/MWh or less by 2050. It further revealed that the most promising hydrogen-based energy carriers, such as ammonia, methanol and synthetic methane, are not hindered by technological scale up challenges today and can already be deployed in existing transport lines and off-take markets.
A diversified portfolio of initial projects and demonstrators for all carriers and technologies can further reduce cost gaps and boost understanding, with the report “strongly” recommending a fast realisation of such projects through a more detailed roadmap and a national industrial hydrogen strategy.
For renewable energy imports to be scaled up, it stressed any competitive disadvantage with fossil alternatives must be mitigated. Better incorporating environmental externalities in energy markets through applying cost-reflective carbon pricing was recommended, with the coalition suggesting that through temporary incentives, such as Carbon Contracts for Difference, the cost gap can be bridged and a level playing field ensured.
Investment support could also be needed for the remaining funding gap to be closed and the maturity of technologies involved to be boosted in a similar fashion to the way wind and solar were developed. A stable, robust roadmap, together with an energy policy and regulatory context open to importing renewable energy and feedstock, alongside domestic production, is also needed for scaling up.
Belgium is targeting an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 compared to 2005 levels which led to Deme, Engie, Exmar, Fluxys, Port of Antwerp, Port of Zeebrugge and WaterstofNet joining forces to form the Hydrogen Import Coalition. Hydrogen will play a key role in a mix of solutions to achieve results and is already extensively used as a feedstock in Belgium for many industrial processes, meaning Belgium is ideally placed to become a frontrunner in the development of a green hydrogen economy. It has a well-developed pipeline network connecting neighbouring states, seaport and terminal infrastructures, industrial clusters and a strong customer base.