A report by German think-tank Agora Energiewende concludes that high shipping costs rule out importing low-cost hydrogen from places such as Chile and Australia. The report, entitled “12 Insights on Hydrogen” states that “when the end-use molecule is hydrogen, shipping from faraway lands such as Chile or Australia [where the cost of producing H2 will be low due to high solar irradiation] works out to be more expensive than if the hydrogen was produced locally in Germany, even with average renewables.”
The authors state that it will be cheaper to produce green hydrogen in the EU than to ship it in, but the opposite will be true for renewable H2 derivatives such as ammonia, methanol and synthetic fuels. Shipping hydrogen will be roughly twice as expensive as importing it via pipeline, the study adds.
“In practice, then, opportunities for ship-based hydrogen trade will be limited to instances where pipelines are not ready or unfeasible due to, say, public opposition or distance (as in Japan) or politics.” The report explains that it would therefore be necessary for the EU to import hydrogen via pipeline from neighbours such as North Africa and Ukraine — as the EU’s hydrogen strategy states.
“Depending on the pace of progress on a pan-European hydrogen pipeline network, by [the] 2030s the EU could be importing cheap renewable hydrogen from North Africa and from Ukraine,” the study explains.