National Hydrogen Strategy

Gas Networks Ireland welcomes the publication of the National Hydrogen Strategy, an important milestone in the decarbonisation of the gas network in the journey to a net-zero energy system in Ireland by 2050.

Read more about the national hydrogen strategy

What is hydrogen?

Hydrogen (H2) is a carbon free gas that can be produced from renewable electricity and is well suited for storage, making it an attractive option to decarbonise energy systems and drive a cleaner energy future for Ireland.   

Hydrogen can be transported through our existing modern gas pipelines, minimising disruption and reducing the amount of expensive infrastructure needed to build a new separate hydrogen transmission network. 

Green Hydrogen

Green hydrogen is produced by using renewable electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen in a process known as electrolysis. As such, it is produced without the release of carbon dioxide (CO₂) and so is both a carbon free and renewable gas.  

In 2021, the total wind energy generated in Ireland and Northern Ireland was 11,695 GWh, while 938 GWh of wind energy was dispatched down. This represents 7.4% of the total available wind energy in 2021. In Ireland, the dispatch-down energy from wind resources was 752 GWh. This is equivalent to 7.3% of the total available wind energy. (Source, Eirgrid Annual Renewable Energy Constraint and Curtailment Report 2021)  

Given future plans to harness both on-shore and off-shore wind resources, this potential energy wastage could increase unless suitable storage solutions are used. Gas Networks Ireland has identified that green hydrogen production and integration with the gas network could provide a way to maximise Ireland’s renewable energy potential. 

What role will green hydrogen play in Ireland's energy future?

Green hydrogen is well suited for storage, making it an attractive option to decarbonise energy systems and drive a cleaner energy future for Ireland and beyond. As Gas Networks Ireland works towards decarbonising our national gas infrastructure, hydrogen will play an integral role in Ireland’s energy future. Green hydrogen enables the optimisation and full exploitation of renewable electricity potential in Ireland by utilising excess generation that would otherwise be curtailed to produce green hydrogen for onward use on the gas network.  

Hydrogen networks will play a key role in this future system, similar to the role played by the natural gas network today; supporting the deployment of increased renewable energy, providing resilience and flexibility to the electricity system, and serving the needs of high heat industries and businesses across the country. Ireland and the EU have committed themselves to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Hydrogen will be key to enabling the decarbonisation of sectors that are difficult to electrify such as high industrial heat, heavy transport and power generation.  

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Hydrogen Research and Projects

Hydrogen will be key to enabling the decarbonisation of sectors that are difficult to electrify such as high industrial heat, heavy transport and power generation.  

We believe that Ireland’s gas network will play a central role in Ireland’s energy future. To do this we are working on partner projects and conducting research to ensure that the existing gas network and gas appliances can be operated safely, while using green hydrogen to meet customer requirements. 

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The future hydrogen economy

The Irish gas network will play a central role in our future clean energy and hydrogen economies by connecting hydrogen production, storage and end-users within hydrogen clusters as they emerge at port locations and at other sites around the country.

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Hydrogen FAQ

Ireland is on a legally binding path to net-zero emissions by no later than 2050, and to a 51% reduction in emissions by 2030. Decarbonised gases like hydrogen will be a critical component of Ireland’s net zero integrated energy system. Its use will be targeted towards “hard to decarbonise” sectors. Ireland has a strategic opportunity to produce renewable hydrogen at scale, with potential to produce more than our own indigenous needs. The establishment of a renewable hydrogen industry in Ireland can play an important role in Ireland’s future energy security, supporting continued economic growth, opening potential new markets, including exports, and domestic industrial opportunities. 

The Government’s first National Hydrogen Strategy was published on July 12th, 2023. The Strategy recognises that hydrogen, offers an incredible opportunity to enable Ireland to transition to a climate neutral economy by being a zero-carbon substitute for fossil fuels, meet its 2050 net-zero emissions targets, strengthen energy security, provide a pathway to energy independence, and create a new energy export market.     

The Strategy includes a list of 21 actions in its publication including the requirement to assess policy supports and business models for large-scale hydrogen storage, development of a transition plan for the gas network, continuation of research into hydrogen blending, development of a blue print for delivering a hydrogen certificate scheme, certification that new installed power generating capacity is zero emissions gases ready,  delivery of a feasibility study of local renewable energy parks, and a review of the future hydrogen needs of priority end users.    

Prior to the Strategy launch, the Government set out a target to produce 80% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030, while phasing out coal and peat-fired electricity generation. The Government also increased the target for offshore wind capacity from 5 GW (gigawatt) to 7 GW by 2030. To achieve this, the installation of 2GW of offshore wind generation connected to electrolyzers by 2030 will be required, which could produce up to 138 kilotons of green hydrogen annually. 

Initial small scale hydrogen applications are likely to utilise compressed tankering solutions. As production expands, hydrogen pipelines are envisioned to become the dominant transportation option. Hydrogen infrastructure is expected to roll out initially across several regional clusters where production, high priority demand and large-scale storage are co-located. The expansion and linking of these clusters into a national hydrogen network will be key to creating a liquid mature hydrogen market. Where feasible, repurposing existing natural gas pipeline infrastructure to hydrogen is favourable. Our research and work to date has shown promising results in terms of the technical capability of the gas network to transport green hydrogen.  More work is needed to better understand the costs, phasing of transition and potential impacts for existing network users. Networks and storage infrastructure, as well as interconnection import / export routes, will play a key role in ensuring security and price resilience of supply.    

The deployment of renewable hydrogen in Ireland will focus on hard-to-decarbonise sectors where energy efficiency and direct electrification are not feasible or cost-effective solutions. Heavy transport applications such as freight are anticipated to be the first end use sectors to develop, followed closely by industry and flexible power generation. Aviation and maritime are expected to be large high priority end-users but these sectors will take longer to develop. Future work is needed to better understand the needs of potential end-use sectors, the volumes of renewable hydrogen required within these sectors and the role that renewable hydrogen can play in an integrated net zero energy.

Gas Networks Ireland established its Network Innovation Centre, located in Citywest, Dublin, to understand the full potential of hydrogen and ensure that the gas network is capable of safely transporting and storing both blended and up to 100% hydrogen into the future. Working with University College Dublin’s Energy Institute (UCDEI), one of the first innovation projects undertaken was ‘Testing of Blends of Hydrogen and Natural Gas’ (HyTest). The team tested the operation and performance of gas appliances utilising a range of hydrogen concentrations from 2% to 20% hydrogen. The research found that householders using natural gas blended with up to 20% hydrogen will not need to make any change to their existing domestic appliances or notice any difference. There was also a substantial emissions reduction obtained by blending hydrogen with natural gas. These outcomes are important from a network safety and end user perspective, and also to support plans to fully convert the network to renewable gas over time.    

Gas Networks Ireland has worked closely with the University College Dublin’s Energy Institute (UCDEI) as well as Ulster University and AMBER. Gas Networks Ireland holds a close relationship with government and leading stakeholders in the energy sector both in Ireland and abroad, with whom there is frequent collaboration.

The European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB) is an initiative that consists of a group of 32 energy infrastructure operators united through a shared goal of a carbon neutral Europe enabled by a thriving renewable and low carbon hydrogen market.  

The vison by the EHB is of almost 53,000km of hydrogen infrastructure by 2040 in the EU.  

This is largely based on about 60% of repurposed existing gas infrastructure.  

Repurposing existing pipelines contributes to affordable energy supplies with an estimated saving of €330 billion over a national clustered approach between 2030 and 2050.