The transportation of hydrogen plays a central role in the swift development of a market-based hydrogen economy in Germany. The interregional transportation of hydrogen connects producers and consumers and integrates the German hydrogen market into a European hydrogen network.

At its meeting on 2 July 2021, the German National Hydrogen Council (Nationaler Wasserstoff Rat – NWR) adopted a paper on hydrogen transportation options and conditions.

Various options are available for the transportation of hydrogen. Smaller quantities of hydrogen can be transported flexibly using truck trailers. In a European scenario for distances of up to around 10,000 km, hydrogen transport in pipelines, even in newly built pipelines, is the most economical option. For such pipeline-based transport, the study on the “European Hydrogen Backbone” (EHB) determines specific transportation prices of approx. 0.16 €/kg per 1,000 km, with pipelines almost fully utilised. At the beginning, low rates of utilisation will lead to higher transport costs for the first customers, which should be cushioned via state support.

The transport prices determined in the EHB study are based on a significant proportion of converted natural gas pipelines in the planned system. The use of existing infrastructure reduces system costs, accelerates realisation, avoids environmental interventions at the sites and thus also contributes to an increase in social acceptance.

According to an assessment by TÜV Nord, the use of existing natural gas pipelines for the safe transport of hydrogen is principally feasible. A corresponding conversion from natural gas to hydrogen has already been demonstrated, among other things, using a natural gas pipeline in the south-west of the Netherlands. The quality of hydrogen is also fundamentally assured during transport in converted natural gas pipelines and the specifications of the relevant standard DVGW G 260 (2021) are met. Due to its physical properties, the high energy transport capacity known from natural gas transport of approx. 8–10 times the energy transport capacity of the transmission of electricity can be realised when transporting hydrogen in pipelines.

In addition to hydrogen and electricity, biogas/biomethane and synthetic natural gas (SNG) will also find their application in the future. Methane networks will continue to exist at the long-distance transmission and distribution network level for corresponding consumers of these substances. The network development planning process for natural gas provides a good basis for achieving efficient and transparent planning of the future hydrogen network – and is now being further developed for hydrogen. Closer integration of infrastructure planning for electricity, gas and hydrogen is also necessary.

The paper is available for download (in German) here.


The National Hydrogen Council (NWR – Der Nationale Wasserstoffrat)

With the adoption of the National Hydrogen Strategy, the German government established the National Hydrogen Council on 10 June 2020. The Council consists of 26 high-level experts from business, science and civil society who are not part of the public administration. The members of the Hydrogen Council have expertise in the areas of production, research and innovation, decarbonisation of industry, transport and building/heating, infrastructure, international partnerships, as well as climate and sustainability. The National Hydrogen Council is chaired by Katherina Reiche, CEO of Westenergie AG and former Parliamentary State Secretary.

The task of the National Hydrogen Council is to advise and support the State Secretary’s Committee for Hydrogen (Staatssekretärsausschuss für Wasserstoff) with proposals and recommendations for action in the implementation and further development of the Hydrogen Strategy.