The European Union’s hydrogen strategy and the leading role Greece can play in Europe’s future energy landscape were the focus of the second edition of the Hydrogen Conference, themed “Hydrogen Networks: Turning Vision into Action” organized by DESFA .
With hydrogen playing a key role in achieving the European Union’s climate goals and diversifying the energy mix, the conference brought together distinguished speakers from the Greek and European energy industry, financial and technical bodies, national authorities and academics, in a discussion on all aspects of the Greek and European hydrogen strategy. Among other things, the focus was on the need to accelerate the relevant institutional and regulatory framework for the creation of an integrated hydrogen market and the upcoming investments for the decarbonisation of natural gas networks, with particular emphasis on Greece’s potential to emerge as a production hub and hydrogen transport for Europe.
In her opening remarks, Maria Rita Galli, CEO of DESFA, referred to the prospects that hydrogen represents for the energy landscape of Greece and Europe, stating: “Hydrogen can play an important role in Greece’s decarbonisation effort and make a decisive contribution in achieving the European goal of climate neutrality by 2050. We need a clear, realistic and modern hydrogen strategy to move from vision to action and advance the hydrogen value chain in the country. Our ambition as DESFA is to promote the development of the Greek hydrogen transport network, which is to be implemented within the next 15 years, contributing substantially to the coordinated effort required to promote a sustainable hydrogen economy in Greece and Europe”.
Maria Spyrakis, Member of the European Parliament and EPP rapporteur in the European Parliament for the European Hydrogen Bank, underlined the critical importance for Europe of creating a competitive hydrogen market and accelerating investments to form an extensive hydrogen infrastructure network, stating : “All natural gas infrastructures under construction should be properly designed to accommodate hydrogen.”
Aristotelis Aivaliotis, General Secretary of Energy and Mineral Resources, stated “”In total agreement with the European framework, Greece recognizes the role of renewable gas, which is shown both in the National Climate Plan and in national policies. We aspire by 2030 to produce 1.7 GW of energy in Greece that will be directed to electrolysis and green hydrogen production and up to 30 GW for the year 2050. About 65% of the green hydrogen consumption we will have will be consumed for the production of synthetic hydrocarbons , for use in transport in 2035”. He added that in the framework of the utilization of the money of the European Recovery Fund “we submitted a plan for the subsidy with amounts of more than 50 million for green hydrogen and methane projects, with an emphasis on the first”.
Dimitris Fourlaris, Vice President of the Energy Sector of RAAEY, said: “Greece is one of the last countries to introduce natural gas into its energy mix. As far as hydrogen is concerned, however, the country cannot be left behind. For this reason, RAAEF strongly supported the candidacy of DESFA in the PCIs projects, as an important step for the financing of the “green” hydrogen transport pipeline Greece-Bulgaria. Decarbonisation can only become a reality if energy security is guaranteed and the EU’s energy system is resilient.”
In the 1st panel of the conference on “The EU framework” the strategic and regulatory developments in the field of hydrogen were presented. In particular, speakers addressed the key parameters and timeline of the European Union’s hydrogen planning, as well as the critical role played by national gas transmission network operators. The discussion also extended to the necessary interventions to convert the gas transmission system to “hydrogen ready”, with the speakers highlighting the challenges but also the opportunities associated with this shift. All participants agreed that leveraging existing natural gas infrastructure is the most sustainable way to accelerate the integration of hydrogen into the energy mix.
In the 2nd panel, entitled "The SE Hydrogen Corridor", the discussion focused on the possibilities of forming a single hydrogen transport corridor in the South East Europe region. The speakers went on to compare the prospect of developing local hydrogen networks with the creation of an interconnected “backbone” of hydrogen pipelines across the European Union, while also referring to the road map for realizing the vision of a single hydrogen transport infrastructure across Europe.
The conclusion reached by all the participants in the discussion is that the creation of the hydrogen corridor in South-Eastern Europe is not just about the countries involved, but about Europe as a whole.
During the 3rd panel entitled The Market Needs, the speakers analyzed the conditions for the opening of the hydrogen market and economy in Greece. Top company executives from Greece and abroad presented extensively the ongoing hydrogen projects in the country, as well as the prospects for further development of the hydrogen market. At the same time, the speakers referred to the obstacles and challenges that must be overcome, while special reference was made to the expected support mechanisms from the state side for the development of the hydrogen market.
With the completion of the 3rd panel, a presentation of the study “Hydrogen Forecast to 2050” followed by Elfride Covarrubias Villegas, Market Director, Italy and Eastern Mediterranean Energy Systems, DNV. Ms. Villegas presented the conclusions of the first study that attempts to predict the penetration of hydrogen up to the year 2050, highlighting its substantial contribution to the decarbonization of the global economy and exploring questions such as when and where hydrogen will be used on a large scale, who economic sectors will adopt it and what are the benefits of converting natural gas pipelines to mixed or pure hydrogen transport pipelines.
During the 4th panel entitled The National Hydrogen Framework and Decarbonization Roadmap, participants referred to the enhanced hydrogen targets included in the revised National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), analyzing the new additions to the Greek regulatory framework , as well as the updated timetable for the decarbonisation of the energy mix. All participants agreed that the development of an integrated hydrogen economy in Greece will have multiple economic and social benefits for the country, actively contributing to the creation of new jobs and addressing the brain drain.
The conference featured speakers from leading companies, institutions and organizations including the Ministry of Environment & of Energy, European Parliament, RAAE, ENTSOG, Florence School of Regulation, Snam, Hydrogen Europe, RINA, ENAGÁS, University of Nicosia, IDEA SA, Motor Oil Hellas, TERNA, BayWa re Projects Greece, Hellenic Hydrogen SA, Advent Technologies, Clean Hydrogen Partnership, PwC Greece, IDEP/EKETA, CluBE.