The Greek and Bulgarian gas transmission and storage system operators will present two major hydrogen projects to the European Union this week.
The EU has set strict rules for the future role of natural gas. The goal is to develop the infrastructure in such a way as to not lock in its use for decades to come. The obvious way to achieve it is to make any new infrastructure hydrogen ready and combine natural gas with green hydrogen.
This is why countries like Greece and Bulgaria, which aim at becoming regional natural gas hubs, have turned their attention towards building pipelines that would transfer renewable gasses as well as fossil gas.
Already, projects like the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB), which began operating last year, are designed to transfer hydrogen in the future. Another such endeavor is the Greece – North Macedonia pipeline, the construction of which is expected to begin this year.
Upgrading hundreds of kilometers of networks
The two countries are planning two more ambitious projects together. The first one concerns the upgrade of their respective natural gas networks to accommodate renewable gases, with a budget of EUR 100 million and a completion date of 2026-2027.
The second project is for new cross-border infrastructure and it is expected to reach EUR 1 billion. After national networks are prepared to use hydrogen, new pipelines would be laid to transfer it abroad.
In total, the pipelines are envisaged with a length of 790 kilometers in Greece, beginning in Elefsina and ending in New Mesimvria. From there, a branch would reach a new underground hydrogen storage site near Kavala, while a second one will reach the border with Bulgaria. In the case of Bulgaria, the hydrogen network will be installed mostly in the western part of the country, up to the border with Romania.
Greece’s National Natural Gas System Operator – DESFA (also known as Hellenic Gas Transmission System Operator) and its Bulgarian counterpart Bulgartransgaz are expected to submit their proposals to the EU this week, aiming to include them in the list of Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI). If they are accepted, the investments can be financed by the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).
Galli: Large players want to transform wind and solar energy to hydrogen
“There is a great plan to produce hydrogen in Greece because we have large players who want to transform wind and solar energy to hydrogen,” DESFA CEO Maria Rita Galli said recently.
The two operators have already signed a letter of intent for cooperation in the field of hydrogen including cross-border energy infrastructure and joint large-scale investment projects. They vowed to support the creation of the EU’s hydrogen market.