Future hydrogen economy
Gas Networks Ireland is committed to supporting Ireland’s ambition to achieve net-zero emissions no later than 2050. We believe that Ireland’s gas network can and should play a central role in Ireland’s future clean energy and hydrogen economies and Gas Networks Ireland is ready to deliver. We are currently:
- Preparing the existing gas network to accept hydrogen/natural gas blends from the UK; and,
- Preparing for the injection of green hydrogen at appropriate locations into the gas network (in doing so, supporting the development of the solar and onshore/offshore wind industries in Ireland)
In the future, Gas Networks Ireland believes that Ireland’s gas network will be the lynchpin in Ireland’s hydrogen economy by:
- Connecting hydrogen production, storage and end-users within hydrogen clusters as they emerge at port locations and at other sites around the country;
- Linking hydrogen clusters with each other and with other hydrogen customers via dedicated hydrogen networks;
- Securing energy system resilience through medium term and long-term inter-seasonal storage and/or the import/export of green hydrogen through the repurposing of one of the interconnectors with the UK, enabling access into the UK and European hydrogen networks; and,
- Enabling the optimisation and full exploitation of renewable electricity generation forms in Ireland by utilising excess generation that would otherwise be curtailed to produce green hydrogen for onward use on the gas network.
The SEAI’s National Heat Study reports that Ireland has the potential to produce up to c.90TWh of green hydrogen per annum. For context, 56.26TWh was the total gas demand in Ireland in 2021. In other words, green hydrogen has potential to significantly reduce Ireland’s gas imports and the geopolitical risks associated with these importations. Networked hydrogen will be critical to enhance security of energy supply and Gas Networks Ireland believe that as much green hydrogen (and other renewable gases) should be used to displace natural gas until the gas network has been decarbonised.
Gas Networks Ireland believes that a hydrogen economy, encompassing hydrogen production, demand, storage, networks and import/export, will become the lynchpin of Ireland’s future, secure and resilient clean energy system, and that hydrogen networks will play a key role in this future system, similar to the role played by the natural gas network today; supporting the deployment of increased renewable energy, providing resilience and flexibility to the electricity system and serving the heat needs of industry and businesses across the country. In addition, new markets will also emerge for hydrogen, such as using green hydrogen to decarbonise aviation and maritime transport, the production of synthetic gases and fertilisers, exporting green hydrogen to the UK and the EU, and inter seasonal energy storage. Gas Networks Ireland’s vision is for hydrogen and biomethane networks to displace natural gas networks over time, providing an opportunity for Ireland to achieve continued economic development, strengthen our energy security and achieve our net-zero emissions climate ambitions.
The detailed modelling that underpins the EU’s Climate Target Plan6 and as set out in the EU’s Energy System Integration strategy, indicates that renewable and low-carbon gases will deliver c.20% of the EU’s final energy demand by 2050, similar to the level of energy delivered by natural gas today. In Ireland, natural gas plays an even greater role in Ireland’s energy system today, delivering c.34% of primary energy demand and Gas Networks Ireland agree with the European Union’s assessment that renewable gases such as green hydrogen and biomethane, can and will deliver a similar portion of primary energy demand in the context of a net-zero secure and resilient clean energy system of the future.
Gas Networks Ireland believes that green hydrogen and biomethane offer not only a pathway for full energy system decarbonisation but also a secure and achievable opportunity for Ireland to increase its energy independence through the diverse production of indigenous renewable gases.
Coupled with Ireland’s offshore wind potential, Ireland’s gas network is uniquely placed to support the transition to net-zero, while simultaneously enhancing Ireland’s energy security and providing opportunities for economic growth and development. Ireland’s gas network can act as a secure demand source for green hydrogen while demand in other sectors emerges (i.e. aviation, powergen, industrial heat, export). The unique ability of the gas network to break the ‘chicken and egg’ conundrum through blending of hydrogen into the exiting natural gas network can be a viable pathway in the evolution of the hydrogen economy in Ireland, providing a route to market for offshore renewable electricity, and thereby incentivising the growth of the hydrogen economy. Ireland’s gas network can also be utilised to safely and cost effectively transport green hydrogen from where it is produced to where it is used.
Gas Networks Ireland’s distribution pipes are ready to transport hydrogen, either at up to 20% blended with natural gas or pure hydrogen via repurposing parts of the network. Current testing of a range of gas appliances with hydrogen blends at the Gas Networks Ireland Network Innovation Centre in Brownsbarn, Citywest in Co. Dublin has shown the impact on appliance emissions to be positive (decreased Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Nitrous Oxide (NOx) emissions) and the impact on appliance performance is generally very modest.
Blending hydrogen into the gas network allows significant volumes of natural gas to be displaced, providing substantial environmental benefits ACER estimate that the costs of repurposing natural gas pipes to transport pure hydrogen is around 10-15% of the cost of construction of new hydrogen networks while the European Hydrogen Backbone study states that the ‘the capital cost per km of refurbished hydrogen pipelines would amount to c.33% of the cost of newly built hydrogen pipelines’. The ACER report further adds ‘for volumes exceeding 10 tonnes/per day, pipelines appear to be the lowest-cost transportation option’ adding ‘distribution pipelines are preferred for local networks’. From an Irish perspective, the distribution network is a potential ‘ready-made’ network for hydrogen clusters, connecting production with storage and end-users, with transmission pipelines offering potential to join the clusters into a national hydrogen network.
|Phase 1||Getting the existing gas network ready to accept blends of hydrogen / natural gas at the Moffat Interconnection Point in Scotland and accept green hydrogen injection at certain points on the gas network.||2022 - 2025|
|Phase 2||Support the development of hydrogen clusters, including the production, storage, transport and end-use of green hydrogen at key locations.||2023 - 2030|
|Phase 3||Hydrogen networks are developed to link to these clusters, providing resilience to the energy system and access to decarbonisation for gas dependent customers not in proximity to the clusters.||2030 - 2035|
|Phase 4||Repurposing one of the existing gas interconnectors to enable green hydrogen export / import, providing energy system resilience and access to the UK and European hydrogen networks.||2035 - 2040|