Business Plus



There has been a lot of talk about hydrogen to date, and following the publicatio­n of the Government’s National Hydrogen Strategy recently, that conversati­on is about to get louder again. Ireland is entering a new chapter in the race to a zero-carbon economy, and the implementa­tion of the strategy, exploring the vital role renewable hydrogen and the gas network will play in our energy system, is an important step.

As the lightest and most abundant element in the universe, the National Hydrogen Strategy recognises that hydrogen offers an incredible opportunit­y to enable Ireland to transition to a climate-neutral economy by being a zerocarbon substitute for fossil fuels. The use of green hydrogen — produced by water electrolys­is running off renewable energy — will help Ireland meet its 2050 net-zero emissions targets, strengthen energy security, provide a pathway to energy independen­ce, and create a new energy export market.

As the conversati­on deepens, there is no doubt Gas Networks Ireland, which has been delivering gas securely for over 40 years, is at the heart of the country’s energy future. The company recognises that the Government’s National Hydrogen Strategy as an important milestone in the decarbonis­ation of the gas network, and has been working on replacing natural gas with renewable gases, such as biomethane and hydrogen, for a number of years.


Working with University College Dublin’s Energy Institute, Gas Networks Ireland has been testing the blending of hydrogen and natural gas with great success. Trials uncovered substantia­l emissions reduction was obtained by blending the two — a 12% reduction in carbon dioxide, a 37% reduction in carbon monoxide, and a 40% reduction in nitrogen oxides.

Indeed, the National Hydrogen Strategy recognises the feasibilit­y of replacing natural gas with renewable gases using the existing 14,664km national gas network in the not-so-distant future. One of the safest and most modern gas networks in the world, Ireland’s €2.7 billion gas network offers a safe, efficient, cost-effective and secure transporta­tion and storage of hydrogen.

“The gas network is Ireland’s hydrogen-ready infrastruc­ture and reliable energy backbone which will continue to play a central role in the country’s future clean energy and hydrogen economies,” notes David Kelly, Gas Networks Ireland’s Director of Customer and Business Developmen­t. “We’ve been working diligently for an extensive period of time on preparing the existing gas network to accept hydrogen and natural gas blends from the UK, as well as preparing for the injection of indigenous­ly produced renewable hydrogen at appropriat­e locations into the gas network.”


For many, the cost of building a dedicated new system to transport hydrogen gas produced by wind energy poses major concern. However, the existing network offers a costsaving solution. Gas Networks Ireland notes repurposin­g the existing gas network is estimated to cost a fraction of the price of a new system — just 10 to 35%. By far the most non-disruptive and sustainabl­e option, there’s no denying the company will play a central role in Ireland’s switch to renewable gases, particular­ly in the transport, industrial heating and power generation sectors.

Gas Network Ireland’s commitment to a green future also sees the company participat­e in a major initiative called the European Hydrogen Backbone to help the European Union radically increase the use of hydrogen by 2030. The initiative is focused on planning for the developmen­t of a new hydrogen transport infrastruc­ture that will see five large-scale hydrogen corridors across Europe connect domestic local hydrogen supply and demand to wider regions.

As part of the plan, it’s hoped that by 2040 Ireland will be connected to the European Hydrogen Backbone via a repurposed pipeline running under the Irish Sea to the Moffat interconne­ctor in Scotland. This would enable Irish hydrogen producers to access an internatio­nal market, reaching hydrogen customers with a strong supply all year round.

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 ?? ?? Gas Networks Ireland has completed and continues to undertake research to ensure the network can safely transport hydrogen gas with encouragin­g results
Gas Networks Ireland has completed and continues to undertake research to ensure the network can safely transport hydrogen gas with encouragin­g results

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