EUROPEAN ENERGY SECTOR IS CHANGING AT THE MOST RAPID PACE EVER
Ten years from now the energy sector will have a completely different landscape. This technological shift will be as huge as the difference between a Tesla and Volkswagen Golf.
In my opinion, there are three major factors driving the energy sector’s transformation:
#1 Growing energy consumption
Increased transportation, heating, households, and industrial production are showing persistent growth of electricity consumption.
Europe has set a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by 2050. That’s a difficult target and the energy sector is of paramount importance to meet that goal.
To meet decarbonization targets, all future energy consumption will be covered by renewables and green gases, such as hydrogen. Traditional fossil fuels will lose their share of the market as hydrogen begins to play a significant role in renewables in the future.
All of this requires a very serious energy infrastructure makeover to make it happen. 500 billion euros will need to be invested over the next decade in Green Deal projects from both the private and government sectors in Europe. Roughly 50% will be invested in the production of green energy, and 50% will be invested in infrastructure to bring green energy to the customer. This train is already moving forward!
What is the role of Ukraine in the European Green Deal? People wondering: Is Ukraine capable of being part of the European Green Deal; what are the benefits for Ukraine to join it?
The answers to all questions are positive! Ukraine has a unique chance to be on the same train as the rest of Europe so as to not be left at the train station.
To do so, Ukraine has to move in the same direction and play by the same rules. These are the factors that will drive Ukrainian energy strategy:
Decarbonization is becoming the cornerstone of the new Energy Strategy for Ukraine and should include reachable goals for decarbonization to secure all of the resources required. The energy balance will shift from fossil fuels to renewables and syngas like biomethane and hydrogen.
Renewables should replace fossils fuels. More investments should be allocated to renewables and regulations should stimulate and protect these investments. Ukraine has excessive capacities in the production of electric power: nuclear, hydro, and solar. They could produce enough hydrogen to export it to the EU.
#3 Sustainable infrastructure
Sustainable infrastructure is essential to bring new energy to customers. Producing hydrogen will become more efficient and less expensive over time, just as solar panels have become cheaper over the last decade. The question is how to best deliver hydrogen to the customer. And the answer is – existing gas infrastructure! But of course, it certainly needs a makeover.
Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has been heavily underfinanced for the last 30 years. Gas infrastructure has an enormous technical capacity exceeding current consumption by four times. It needs a complete makeover. This is the same process that many Eastern European countries have gone through over the last ten years.
Today our European colleagues are beginning to redesign and adapt their networks and equipment to hydrogen-ready standards. This requires new significant investments. The good news for Ukraine is that the existing network can be redesigned into a hydrogen-ready network almost at the cost of the full repairs.
The bottom line is simple: to export hydrogen from Ukraine to the EU, the Ukrainian gas network – including transmission and distribution needs to be brought up to par with hydrogen-ready standards.
We wanted to find out if it was possible, how much would it cost, and how exactly it needed to be done. We found out that our European colleagues were running field tests and experimenting with gas blends. So we decided to act.
RGC launched the hydrogen research project in 2020. We built our test site and provided research grants to universities and scientific laboratories.
We invested in the research and development of the future redesigning of the gas network. We already have the first results from our field tests and laboratories. There are more experiments to be done and a lot of work ahead to get all the answers, but preliminary results say “yes,” transporting hydrogen and methane blends via the existing network is possible.
We keep our information open and are sharing it with members of the Hydrogen task force at the MARCOGAZ technical association.
Last month, the Energy Community Secretariat stated in their report that RGC is running the most significant R&D project to bring hydrogen onto the Ukrainian market. We believe that hydrogen and methane blends could be injected into redesigned gas networks in the nearest future. It’s Ukraine’s ticket to get on the Green Deal train with the rest of Europe.