The new energy strategy of Russia: “Northern stream — 2” will be supplied by hydrogen (Handelsblatt, Germany)

As Europe plans the transition to hydrogen as an energy carrier, Russia also need to adjust. She simply has no choice: as the largest exporter of oil and gas on the continent, it seeks to maintain its leading position in the energy market.

Recently, the Russian Ministry of energy presented a plan for the development of domestic hydrogen. By 2024, needs to be wholly new industry.

And by the end of this year is expected to develop the concept and to identify support measures for pilot projects. In early 2021, the government intends to create incentives for exporters and consumers in the domestic market, so they gradually switched to hydrogen.

The pioneers of this “green revolution” has already been defined: the state concern “Gazprom” and “Rosatom”. While they both are known as giants of traditional energy (even if Moscow considers nuclear energy an alternative and environmentally friendly). There is a third interested company (however, without a specific project) — a competitor to Gazprom and NOVATEK.

Rumor has it that Gazprom can next year to build and test a hydrogen turbine. From the German point of view, it is of interest due to the emerging partnership between the company “Gazprom Energoholding” and the concern Siemens. Responsible for the production of gas turbines “daughter” Siemens STGT at the moment, not without problems, “diluted” with its Russian partners from the company “Power machines”. According to media reports, “Gazprom Energy” is ready to enter into a new partnership.

In addition, Gazprom to 2024 going to be used in other gas systems hydrogen. In particular, we are talking about gas power plants, but also about simple gas boilers.

Rosatom intends to build by 2024 proving ground for trains to hydrogen propulsion. Specifically we are talking about train connections with the island of Sakhalin, where the Russian nuclear monopoly is going together with JSC “Russian Railways” and engineering company “Transmashholding” to engage in the refurbishment of trains on hydrogen.

Now Russia is the “gray plug” is produced from fossil fuels. However, in the atmosphere large quantities of carbon dioxide.

But now Moscow intends to bet on clean energy: Gazprom plans to produce so-called “gray oxygen”, which is extracted during heating and the decomposition of methane, the main element of natural gas. By pyrolysis of methane instead of CO2 as the waste a solid carbon — that is, the ashes that can be used as fertilizer.

The pipelines to transport hydrogen

According to the chief analyst on energy issues of the Higher school of management “SKOLKOVO” Yury Melnikov, the production of hydrogen is expected to build near the markets. For Gazprom, the question here is primarily about Europe. The company is already testing the waters for projects within the EU. In addition, there is the possibility to transport hydrogen through pipelines.

After all, with the mass transition of Europeans to the hydrogen of Russia would have otherwise simply freeze these pipelines. So, for example, still unfinished pipe “Nord stream — 2” cost about 8.5 billion euros at full load will pay for itself in ten years. If the production of hydrogen in Europe will lead to a severe reduction in imports of gas, “Nord stream — 2” can be an investment failure.

In view of this, Gazprom is working to fill the tube at least in a gas mixture. In the old tube along with natural gas to pump 20% of hydrogen. The new well pipes, such as Nord stream, its share, according to Gazprom, may reach even 70%.

The European hydrogen market, in the opinion of management of the concern, by 2050 may reach 153 billion euros. The Russian Ministry of energy is inclined to think that the “plug” will be from 32 to 164 billion euros.

While in the home Gazprom may receive a large competitor in the production of hydrogen. Rosatom in the production relies on the so-called “green” hydrogen generated during electrolysis of water. This method is considered to be one of the cleanest. However, the electrolysis Rosatom intends to carry out with the help of nuclear energy, and this causes skepticism in some countries of Europe, including in Germany.

However, Nikolai Ponomarev-Stepnoi, scientific Advisor to the Director General of Rosatom Alexey Likhachev, says that the concern by 2050 is able to increase the hydrogen production to 50 million tons per year.

With regard to potential investments in the sector while all concerned parties are silent. It is clear, however, that Rosatom has already received from the state funds for the first test. Production of hydrogen — a part of the program “Nuclear science, engineering and technology”, the estimated cost of which is up to 1.1 billion euros. Half of this amount falls on the state budget. However, if the decision to expand hydrogen production will be made, this amount will increase several times.

In principle, the amount it is manageable for both companies. Gazprom in 2019 gained in terms of about 14.5 billion euros. Income of Rosatom comparable. About his profit information in the public domain.