Hydrogen, the energy carrier of the future
This project provides a roadmap for the use of the climate-neutral energy carrier hydrogen (H2).
How high is the demand for hydrogen in Austrian industry? How can a dedicated hydrogen network be developed? How can the transition from a fossil to a renewable gas grid be prepared?
To answer these questions, AGGM has developed an H2 Roadmap for Austria in cooperation with the grid operators. The basis for the H2 Roadmap was the ONE100 study. It clearly showed that a dedicated transport infrastructure for hydrogen is required for a decarbonised energy system.
Hydrogen demand survey 2022
As a basis for the calculations of the H2 Roadmap, the demand for methane and hydrogen from industrial companies for the years 2023-2050 was surveyed in spring 2022. For this purpose, AGGM created a questionnaire that was sent to their major customers via the grid operators. The results of the survey show a clear interest of the companies in hydrogen as well as a gradual decrease in the demand for methane.
This bottom-up approach resulted in different demand scenarios, categorised under max, base and min scenarios. This allows an assessment of the future demand for hydrogen and methane, although there is some variability.
The industry is thirsty for hydrogen.
The following graph visualises the results of the hydrogen demand survey.
- The yellow line shows the gas consumption of the last few years.
- The light blue line shows the increasing demand for hydrogen in the future.
- The green line shows the decreasing methane demand.
- The dark blue line shows the sum of hydrogen and methane, cumulated from the base scenarios.
How the hydrogen network is created
The Austrian gas grid has enormously high transport capacities. The foundation for tomorrow's hydrogen infrastructure is therefore already being laid today.
An essential building block of the H2 Roadmap is the rededication or new construction of the West Austria Gas Pipeline (WAG) as well as the rededication of one strand of the Trans Austria Gas Pipeline (TAG) by 2030. With the connection to the distribution area and the priority use of existing gas pipelines - especially of existing parallel infrastructure - the fast and cost-effective development of a hydrogen infrastructure is guaranteed. The implementation enables the demand to be met throughout Austria and can also provide capacities for transit.
For the future transport of hydrogen and methane, two separate gas pipeline systems have to be created. Only 300 km of new gas pipelines need to be built for this purpose. The rest can be achieved by rededicating about 1,400 km of existing pipelines.
The infrastructure for tomorrow's hydrogen demand is already being planned today.
The centres of hydrogen feed-in are to be found where renewable electricity is produced from wind and photovoltaics: in the east of Austria, in the Mur-Mürz valley in Styria and in the central region of Upper Austria. Through water electrolysis, the green electricity is converted into hydrogen, stored and transported.
Potential underground hydrogen storage facilities in Lower Austria and Upper Austria will be connected to the future hydrogen grid. These will enable seasonal balancing and the full use of the potential of renewable electricity sources.
According to the calculations of the ONE100 study, around 25 TWh of hydrogen could be produced in Austria in 2040.
Green light for hydrogen!
First specific projects
The transmission pipelines are the heart of the East-West and North-South connection in the European gas transit network. Through this expansion or rededication of the pipelines, green hydrogen can be delivered in the future, for example, from North Africa via Italy to Austria (TAG) and also further to Germany (WAG). Hydrogen can then just as easily flow from Germany to Austria.
The following projects were submitted at European level as Projects of Common Interest (PCI) and approved by E-Control as planning projects. They are to be realised by 2030 and will enable a connection to the European hydrogen backbone.
Projects of the GCA
- Hydrogen project WAG: The expansion to a full loop of the WAG should enable the use of two parallel pipelines for the respective transport of hydrogen and methane in the future.
- Hydrogen project Penta: Construction of a parallel pipeline of Penta-West for the simultaneous transport of hydrogen and methane.
- Hydrogen Project Murfeld: Construction of a parallel hydrogen pipeline to the South-East Pipeline (SOL). The extension enables a methane and hydrogen connection from TAG to Slovenia.
Project of the TAG
H2 Readiness of the TAG Pipeline: One of the three methane pipelines of the existing TAG pipeline system will be converted into a hydrogen pipeline.
H2 Collector East
The goal is to build a 100% H2-ready gas pipeline - partly by adapting existing infrastructure. From 2026, renewable hydrogen will be transported from northern Burgenland to Lower Austria and Vienna.
Green electricity from wind and sun will be converted into hydrogen on site and efficiently transported in a gas pipeline to the consumers. This enables the rapid integration of additionally produced green electricity into the energy system.
The hydrogen comes from what will be Austria's largest electrolysis plant, PanHy (Pannonian Green Hydrogen). PanHy is a project of Verbund and Burgenland Energie. It is the largest planned Austrian electrolysis plant - with 60 MW in the first expansion stage and 300 MW in the final expansion stage. Along the future route of the H2 Collector East there are other promising locations for additional electrolysis plants. The implementation of the H2 Collector East will enable the harvesting of a significant amount of additional wind and solar energy.
The approval of the planning steps of Netz Burgenland, Netz Niederösterreich, Wiener Netze and Gas Connect Austria for the construction of the H2 Collector Ost is currently being reviewed by E-Control.
Power-to-gas technology uses water electrolysis to convert electricity into gaseous energy carriers. Gas Connect Austria (GCA) and Austrian Power Grid (APG) are working on a pilot project for a power-to-gas plant. The goal is to make every kWh generated from renewable sources usable. Surplus green electricity that cannot be fed into the grid will be converted into hydrogen and made storable.
The hydrogen would then be fed into the existing Level 1 grid of the (GCA). This power-to-gas plant would be one of the largest demonstration plants for sector coupling in Austria.