Italy, Austria and Germany back hydrogen-ready pipeline connecting North Africa to Central Europe

Southern hydrogen corridor or SoutH2 Corridor, a hydrogen-ready pipeline corridor connecting North Africa to central Europe, has received support from Italian, Austrian and German ministries of energy for its development in the European Union and for the respective infrastructure projects to obtain the status of Project of Common Interest (PCI).

SoutH2 Corridor. Courtesy of Snam

Snam, Italy’s gas infrastructure operator, Trans Austria Gasleitung (TAG) and Gas Connect Austria (GCA) in Austria and bayernets in Germany have formed a partnership to develop the SoutH2 Corridor which will enable renewable hydrogen produced in the Southern Mediterranean to reach European consumers.

Energy ministries of Italy, Austria and Germany signed a joint letter of political support for developing this 3,300-kilometre-long dedicated hydrogen-ready pipeline corridor which is a part of the European Hydrogen Backbone.

Its development will guarantee the security of supply and is crucial for creating an interconnected and diversified hydrogen backbone. Furthermore, with a hydrogen import capacity of more than 4 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) from North Africa, the corridor could deliver 40% of the REPowerEU import target, Snam said.

The southern hydrogen corridor is expected to be fully operational as early as 2030. It consists of the individual PCI project candidates:

  • “Italian H2 Backbone” promoted by Snam Rete Gas;
  • “H2 Readiness of the TAG pipeline system” promoted by Trans Austria Gasleitung GmbH;
  • “H2 Backbone WAG + Penta-West” promoted by Gas Connect Austria GmbH; and
  • “HyPipe Bavaria – The Hydrogen Hub” promoted by bayernets GmbH.

According to the partnership, the initiative is centred around the utilisation of existing repurposed midstream infrastructure to transport hydrogen, with the inclusion of some new dedicated infrastructure where necessary.

A high proportion of repurposed pipelines (>70%) will enable cost-effective transportation, whilst access to favourable renewable hydrogen production locations (wind and solar) in North Africa will enable competitive production, ultimately benefitting the final user.

As explained, renewable hydrogen would be largely produced in North Africa, for which the partners have collected signed letters of support from producers intending to produce c. 2,5 mtpa of renewable hydrogen.

It would then flow North, serving the hard-to-abate demand clusters of Italy (e.g. Augusta, Taranto and northern Italy), Austria (e.g. Styria, Vienna and Linz) and Germany (e.g. Burghausen and Ingolstadt). Transportation of domestic production in each of the member states would also be facilitated through the SoutH2 Corridor.

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