The creation of a hydrogen East Carpathian valley will demonstrate the capability of Ukrainian-Slovak partnership in the field of green hydrogen
International agreements on hydrogen transportation are an essential component of the transition from plans to concrete implementation of hydrogen projects. In this context, the event of 2021, when four gas transmission companies from different countries joined forces to create a common hydrogen corridor, was very significant.
This aspect was not overlooked by Jan Weiterschütz, the head of the Slovak Hydrogen Association, in his speech at an international online conference on hydrogen issues. It is worth reminding that the initiative to create a hydrogen corridor was joined by the gas transmission operator of Slovakia, LLC "Gas Transmission System Operator of Ukraine", gas transmission companies of the Czech Republic and Germany. Thus, agreements have been reached regarding the future transportation of hydrogen from Ukraine, which has conditions for the production of green hydrogen, through Slovakia and the Czech Republic to EU countries. Therefore, it will be in Slovakia where the transport bridge between Europe and post-war Ukraine for the transfer of green hydrogen will be created.
At present, we have a significant oil and gas network that runs through Slovakia. It consists of four parallel pipes with a diameter of 1.2 meters. The speaker assured that in the future, we plan to transport hydrogen through them. Regarding the prospects of hydrogen energy development in Slovakia itself, Jan Weiterschütz also has very optimistic expectations. After all, there is a considerable demand for green hydrogen:
Slovakia has gas-dependent industries - we consume up to 100,000 tons of gas per year, the head of the Slovak Hydrogen Association announced. - A major consumer is the steel plant in Košice. They currently consume a vast amount of coal, but have a desire to produce metal using hydrogen. I understand that we cannot do without the involvement of the government, the motivation of all interested parties. A lot has already been done in this direction. Therefore, we still have hopes to implement a pilot project in 2023 and switch to the supply of hydrogen of about 100,000 tons."
Among other Slovak productions dependent on gas supply are companies that produce natural fertilizers, chemical production, and processing industry. The natural gas they currently consume is planned to be replaced with hydrogen or blue low-carbon gas in the future.
However, Slovakia's internal capacities can only provide for 10-20% of the hydrogen demand. The rest of the country needs to import it.
"We will need large hydrogen production capacities abroad, including in Ukraine. Because Ukraine's geographic location, 70 km away from our steel mills, makes it conducive to cooperate with your country," emphasized Jan Weiterschütz.
As projects of the near future, Slovak partners consider production capacities precisely in the territory of Western Ukraine. Therefore, preparations are already underway for the so-called East Carpathian Valley project, aimed at combining Ukrainian capacities with those of the plant in Kosice. The implementation of this challenging but very powerful hydrogen project will require significant investments.
The head of the Slovak Hydrogen Association, Jan Weiterschütz, expressed hope that Western partners will be interested in this project:
The project is not cheap, but very promising. Because through the hydrogen corridor, we will be able to connect other consumers to our hydrogen system in the future. Moreover, we know that the European Union and the United States are ready to invest in renewable sources and the restoration of the Ukrainian economy in general, which has been stated at various levels. Therefore, I believe that we will succeed. The creation of the East Carpathian Hydrogen Valley will demonstrate the capacity of Ukrainian-Slovak partnership in the field of green hydrogen. And if we look at it from a more global perspective, today there is everything for Ukraine, with the help of Western partners, to gain not only political but also energy independence.