Hydrogen in Poland: A viable alternative as an energy source?28.02.2022Media
“Poland is the 3rd in Europe and 5th in the world in the production of hydrogen”, announced Deputy Minister Ireneusz Zyska. But does hydrogen have a chance to become a dominant energy source in Polish conditions?
Author: Martyna Kompala
Content of this article does not reflect the positions or opinions of the EU-SysFlex project or its partners. EU-SysFlex is not responsible for the information or opinions included in this article.
According to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), global hydrogen demand in 2020 was 90 million tons, virtually all of it for refining and industrial applications.
It was produced exclusively from fossil fuels, resulting in nearly 900 million tons of CO2 emissions. However, hydrogen is a key pillar of decarbonization for the industry, the study’s authors emphasize.
European hydrogen strategies
The European Commission on 8 July 2020 published a „Hydrogen Strategy for a Climate Neutral Europe”. Its main objective is to stimulate the development of the green hydrogen sector so that it is a fully zero-carbon and widely available energy source in the EU by 2050.
Whereas on November 2, 2021. The Council of Ministers adopted a resolution on the adoption of the „Polish Hydrogen Strategy until 2030 with an Outlook until 2040”. It is to be „a strategic document that sets out the main objectives of development of the hydrogen economy in Poland and the directions of activities needed to achieve them”.
Currently Poland is one of the key producers of this element in the world, but unfortunately it is not emission-free hydrogen. The Polish strategy indicates that it aims to develop support programs to build a hydrogen economy that includes only low-emission hydrogen, i.e. from renewable sources and created using zero-emission technologies (so-called green hydrogen).
The document sets six goals: implementation of hydrogen technologies in power and heating sectors, use of hydrogen as an alternative fuel in transport, support for industry decarbonization, production of hydrogen in new installations, efficient and safe transmission, distribution and storage of hydrogen, and creation of a stable regulatory environment.
Indicators for achieving the goals in 2030 are to include the use of 800-1000 new hydrogen buses, the creation of at least 5 hydrogen valleys, and a minimum of 32 hydrogen refueling and bunkering stations.
In an interview with EURACTIV.pl, Jakub Wiech, deputy editor-in-chief of Energetyka24.com and an energy expert, notes that the Polish Hydrogen Strategy and the creation of valleys of hydrogen clusters „provides some foundations for the hydrogen economy”.
„Poland can use its experience as one of the largest hydrogen producers in the world. I think that this knowledge segregated on the basis of the absent hydrogen economy and how we handle this element, combined with new opportunities for the production of green or purple hydrogen (produced using nuclear power – ed.), can bring significant development of this segment. Provided, of course, that this development is carried out efficiently, with support for entrepreneurs and innovators”, he adds.
First hydrogen production plant in Poland
Poland’s first hydrogen production facility will be built in Konin, for which EU funding of EUR 4.5 million has been granted. According to a communiqué of ZE PAK, a decision on environmental conditions for the undertaking was received last July.
„The hydrogen generation plant at the Konin Power Plant is to be based on electrolyte-polymer membrane electrolyzers (…). Electricity used for the purpose of operating the electrolyzer will come from 100 percent renewable energy sources”, it was announced.
However, the Polish Economic Institute’s analysis of hydrogen economy in Poland, published in 2020, noted that „Poland, compared to highly developed countries, has little technological potential in the area of hydrogen economy”. The authors of the report argue this thesis, among others, by the fact that in Poland there are few specialized companies in this field.
The Polish Economic Institute also stresses that the biggest problem for the development of the innovation system in the area of hydrogen is the low maturity of the market, which means above all the lack of sufficient legal regulations and support instruments. However, it is worth noting that a year later the government published the Polish Hydrogen Strategy discussed above.
„The lack of openness to cooperation, both between national organizations and foreign organizations, will hinder the development of the hydrogen economy”, the document reads.
After the government published the hydrogen strategy, in the report of the Lower Silesian Institute of Energy Affairs (DISE) and the Polish Wind Energy Association (PWEA) entitled „Green hydrogen in Poland”, its assumptions were analyzed. As the authors of the document write, this is an extremely important issue, because the annual demand for hydrogen in Poland in 2040 is to exceed 100 TWh.
„Achieving climate neutrality in Europe, including Poland, will not be possible without large-scale introduction of technologies in power generation, gas, transport and industry”, reads the document. It emphasizes that if hydrogen is to fulfill its role in the process of decarbonizing European economies, it is necessary to ensure access to emission-free technologies for its production, eliminate barriers and to facilitate the construction of RES, in particular wind energy.
The authors of the analysis also pointed out that „in Polish conditions, the key role in the production of clean hydrogen should be played primarily by renewable sources whose operation, thanks to the properties of hydrogen allowing for energy storage, will stabilize the National Power System (NPS) in an even better way”. Moreover, energy transformation requires withdrawal of conventional coal units from NPS and discontinuation of construction of new ones.
„The current pace and plans for renewable development are unlikely to meet the future supply for green hydrogen”, the experts point out. The document also recommends taking quick action to create opportunities for hydrogen transmission, storage and grid connection.
„The production of hydrogen in Poland should be implemented under three paths by using the surplus of RES, the work of a separate part of generation in the off-grid system (consisting in storing energy produced by the installation, but not consumed on an ongoing basis on its own without sending it to the power plant – ed.), integrated with dedicated electrolyzers, and distributed production for local needs”.
Jakub Wiech stresses that hydrogen is certainly an alternative to an economy based on fossil fuels in some perspective. „However, in order to replace this type of raw material with hydrogen, we need to have a developed technology of electrolyzers that extract this element from water using energy from nuclear sources, i.e. renewable and emission-free”, the expert adds.
„We must also have appropriate technologies for storing and transferring hydrogen and, at the same time, concrete solutions for replacing fossil fuels with hydrogen – not only in the power industry, but also in metallurgy and metallurgy. This is still a question of the future, as it boils down to technical feasibility, profitability and commercialization. But in general, in a broader perspective, I see huge opportunities for the hydrogen economy”, Wiech concludes.
Read the article in Polish