Hydrogen is today mostly produced and consumed in the same location, without the need for transport infrastructure. With demand for hydrogen increasing and the advent of new distributed uses, there is a need to develop hydrogen infrastructure that connects production and demand centres. 

Pipelines are the most efficient and least costly way to transport hydrogen up to a distance of 2 500 to 3 000 km, for capacities around 200 kt per year. About 2 600 km of hydrogen pipelines are in operation in the United States and 2 000 km in Europe, mainly owned by private companies and used to connect industrial users. Several countries are developing plans for new hydrogen infrastructure, with Europe leading the way. The European Hydrogen Backbone initiative established in 2020 groups together 32 gas infrastructure operators with the aim of establishing a pan-European hydrogen infrastructure. In June 2022, the Dutch government announced a plan to invest EUR 750 million in the development of a national hydrogen transmission network of 1 400 km. Staying on track with the NZE Scenario would require around 15 000 km of hydrogen pipelines (including new and repurposed pipes) by 2030. 

For transporting hydrogen over long distances, shipping hydrogen and hydrogen carriers are more cost-competitive than hydrogen pipelines. In February 2022 the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain project demonstrated for the first time the shipment of liquefied hydrogen from Australia to Japan. However, due to the technical challenges of shipping liquefied hydrogen, a growing number of projects are considering the possibility of transporting ammonia, although all these projects are still at very early stages of development, with the exception of the NEOM project, which reached financial closure in March 2023. In the NZE Scenario, more than 15 Mt of low-emission hydrogen (in the form of hydrogen or hydrogen-based fuels) are shipped globally by 2030. 

The development of infrastructure for hydrogen storage will also be needed. Salt caverns are already in use for industrial-scale storage in the United States and the United Kingdom. The potential role of hydrogen in balancing the power grid and the potential development of international trade would require the development of more storage capacity and its flexible operation. Several research projects are ongoing for the demonstration of fast cycling in large-scale hydrogen storage, such as HyCAVmobil in Germany and HyPSTER in France, with both planning to start tests this year. Other research projects in the Netherlands, Germany and France are analysing the potential for repurposing natural gas salt caverns for hydrogen storage. Research and demonstration is also progressing in the development of other types of underground storage sites (such as depleted gas fields, aquifers and lined hard rock caverns). In 2022, a demonstration facility to store hydrogen in lined hard rock caverns started operating in Sweden. In the NZE Scenario, global bulk storage capacity rises from 0.5 TWh today to 70 TWh by 2030. 


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