German Pipeline Network Fit For Hydrogen Utilization

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German Pipeline Network Fit For Hydrogen Utilization

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H2 hydrogen molecule (© Shutterstock/Alexander Limbach)
H2 hydrogen molecule (© Shutterstock/Alexander Limbach)

The results of the research are groundbreaking for the future of hydrogen. Of the three main challenges along the value chain - production, transportation and utilization - transportation has now been fundamentally solved." ~
(Prof. Gerald Linke, Chairman of the Board of the Deutscher Verein des Gas- und Wasserfaches (DVGW) -  German Gas and Water Industry Association)

In a seminal study conducted by Open Grid Europe and the Materials Testing Institute of the University of Stuttgart, the steel pipelines installed in the German 550,000-km gas grid are suitable for transporting hydrogen, dispelling widespread concerns that the  pipeline network would have to be revamped.

The pipelines were found to possess no differences in terms of their basic suitability for transporting hydrogen compared to natural gas.  Moreover, a representative cross-section of the steels used in German and, in some cases, European pipelines was exposed to extreme operating and aging conditions with hydrogen, and subjected to technical tests.

Thus in the existing pipeline networks, if the pipes at hand can continue to be used, with only individual components or station elements to be upgraded or replaced, then the existing infrastructure with a total investment volume of around 300 billion euros, made over many decades, could be utilized. "The German government must now utilize this great potential and pave the way for the hydrogen economy in order to live up to its claim of accelerated climate protection," says Professor Linke.

The bottom line is that the existing pipeline infrastructure in Germany can be converted for the transportation of hydrogen at a total cost of approximately 30 billion euros. Millions of households and businesses with a gas connection are already H2-ready or can be made H2-ready with relatively little outlay and effort, enabling them to be supplied with 100 percent climate-neutral hydrogen via existing infrastructure. 

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