Despite all the obstacles, Nord Stream 2 is on the verge of completion. However, Europe will soon need other energy resources. Russia will be able to earn up to one hundred billion dollars a year from the export of hydrogen, including to the Old World. The tasks are ambitious – by 2030, control 20 percent of the global market, and eventually become a leader. And the plans of the European Union to achieve full carbon neutrality come in handy here.
The goal is market leadership
By 2050, hydrogen will bring Russia from 23.6 to 100.2 billion dollars a year. Exports to the world market will range from 7.9 to 33.4 million tons, according to the draft Concept for the development of hydrogen energy until 2024. The project was coordinated with companies, specialized departments and sent to the government.
The difference in forecasts is explained by the fact that it is not yet very clear according to which scenario the hydrogen energy market will develop, which is simply not there yet. Large-scale transportation from production centers to consumption centers is possible by analogy with oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG). Or, for example, production and consumption within specific countries and regions.
Russia, as a potentially large supplier, is interested in this market. In 2020, the Hydrogen Energy sector was included in the Energy Strategy for the first time. The goals were set: by 2024 to export 0.2 million tons, by 2035 – ten times more.
They intend to achieve this by investing and increasing the production of hydrogen based on natural gas – in particular, using renewable sources and nuclear energy. Plus – the development of domestic low-carbon technologies for obtaining element number one: pyrolysis, methane electrolysis and other methods. Including through the localization of foreign know-how.
Export to Asia
Russia has great potential for the commercialization of this area. Thus, Rusatom Overseas and the Japanese Agency for Natural Resources and Energy signed a cooperation agreement on a pilot hydrogen project in September 2019.
In February, Rosatom announced that it was studying the prospect of setting up production on Sakhalin for further export of hydrogen to Japan. By 2030, the state corporation will be able to provide up to 40% of the needs of the island state.
And in March, Oleg Aksyutin, deputy chairman of the Gazprom board, touched on this topic in connection with supplies to China, South Korea and Japan. “In particular, the possibility of hydrogen production in the Far East by the method of steam reforming of methane with the provision of capture and storage of carbon dioxide and subsequent export is of particular interest,” he noted.
Europe’s green course
Europe will not be left out either, largely thanks to the pivot to green energy.
Germany has already expressed its readiness to support the development of the global hydrogen market and interact with potential suppliers – Saudi Arabia and Russia (just in April, the Ministry of Energy agreed with colleagues from Germany on cooperation in production). The Berlin doctrine assumes that by 2050 almost the entire economy of the country, including heavy industry, will switch to hydrogen.
The Green Deal, a strategy approved by the European Union in 2019, may become a booster for hydrogen exports. This document assumes complete carbon neutrality by 2050 and a significant reduction in imports of carbon-intensive products – oil and gas. By 2030, greenhouse gas emissions are planned to be reduced by at least 55%.
Thus, until 2030, the “Green Deal” will especially affect the import of coal, and after – oil and gas. This will increase the demand for other energy resources, primarily hydrogen.
Critics argue that Russia, in general, has nothing to catch here: it only needs our natural gas, the raw material for extracting hydrogen. However, this is not quite true. There is simply not enough capacity in the European Union to produce element one. To create them, huge investments are needed, says independent industrial expert Leonid Khazanov.
“Hydrogen can be obtained either by electrolysis of water or by processing natural gas. But in Europe then you will have to build a lot of wind and solar power plants (nuclear and coal are prohibited there), which requires space for their placement (even in the sea you cannot put wind turbines everywhere). Or to make installations for the synthesis of hydrogen from blue fuel. In any case, impressive capital investments will be required, and not all Western companies are ready for this, “RIA Novosti’s interlocutor explains.
Therefore, the conditions for the export of hydrogen from Russia are more than suitable: the location between two key sales markets – Europe and Asia – plus huge reserves of natural gas. And besides, there is a powerful research and production base.