European Hydrogen Backbone

European Hydrogen Backbone grows to 40,000 km, covering 11 new countries.
Hydrogen symbol and european map

  • Twelve European gas TSOs from eleven European countries have joined the EHB initiative
  • EHB group presents a vision for a 39,700 km hydrogen pipeline infrastructure in 21 countries
  • Two-thirds of the network is based on repurposed natural gas pipelines 
  • Lower investment cost per kilometre of pipeline compared to previous estimate

Today, the European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB) initiative presents an updated version of its vision for a dedicated hydrogen transport infrastructure across Europe. The group proposes a hydrogen network of 39,700km by 2040, with further growth expected after 2040. This grid connects 21 European countries. The vision launched today follows the EHB report published in July 2020, which sparked a debate across Europe. That report described a network of 23,000km covering ten countries.

Two-third share repurposed pipelines

Some 69% of the proposed hydrogen network consists of repurposed existing natural gas grids. The remaining 31% newly built pipelines are needed to connect new off-takers. These are currently located in countries with small gas grids but with high expected future hydrogen demand and supply.

Lower investment costs per kilometre of pipeline

The almost 40,000 km backbone planned for 2040 requires an estimated total investment of €43-81billion. The investment per kilometre of pipeline is lower compared to last year’s EHB report as the previous report only included cost estimates for pipelines with a 48-inch diameter, while the present report takes into account that a large part of today’s natural gas infrastructure – and tomorrow’s hydrogen infrastructure – consists of smaller pipelines. These are cheaper to repurpose, albeit with somewhat higher transport costs per kilometre. Transporting hydrogen over 1,000 km would cost €0.11-0.21 per kg of hydrogen on average, making the EHB a cost-effective option for long-distance hydrogen transportation.

Stable regulatory framework required

The hydrogen infrastructure maps for 2030, 2035 and 2040 published today reflect the vision of 23 European gas TSOs, based on their analysis of how infrastructure could evolve to meet decarbonisation targets. It is important to stress that the hydrogen transportation routes and timelines in the maps are not set in stone. The final Backbone design and timeline depend on market conditions for hydrogen and natural gas and the creation of a stable, supportive and adaptive regulatory framework.

A new corridor between Spain, France and Germany from 2035

A corridor to Germany via Spain and France could emerge by 2035 with the conversion of an existing pipeline in Larrau. This route would link hydrogen demand clusters in northern Europe with supply sources located in the Iberian Peninsula, or even in North Africa. These intermittent renewable energy sources would thus be complementary throughout Europe, while allowing connection to storage solutions. The ability to transport large quantities of hydrogen will enable the emergence of a liquid cross-border hydrogen market.

By 2040, two additional interconnections between Spain and France, near Irun/Biriatou and Catalonia, will increase the security of supply and flexibility via the anticipated high hydrogen flows from Spain, and potentially North Africa, to the rest of Europe.

In addition to transit, 4,400 km of hydrogen networks will be developed in France linking the main consumption areas such as ports, industrial areas, logistics hubs and airports, as well as underground storage clusters. This infrastructure will give national consumers safe, competitive access to renewable and low-carbon hydrogen, facilitating the decarbonisation of transport and industry.