Polish hydrogen strategy | Allen & Overy LLP

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On November 2, 2021, the Council of Ministers approved the Polish hydrogen strategy until 2030 with a perspective until 2040 (the strategy). The strategy sets out the main objectives and more than 40 actions for the development of a low carbon hydrogen economy in Poland, with emphasis on the use of hydrogen in the energy sectors , transport and industry. It covers each link in the hydrogen economy value chain: production, distribution, conversion, storage and use of hydrogen, as well as the necessary legislative and financial changes. The solutions presented in the strategy are the result of an in-depth analysis of hydrogen policies introduced in other countries and aim to use Polish technological, scientific and research capabilities for the development of modern hydrogen technologies. and the creation of the Polish hydrogen economy. Hydrogen technologies are not only a central element of the European Green Deal’s goal of achieving climate neutrality, but also a key factor in maintaining the competitiveness of the Polish economy. The publication of the strategy indicates that Poland is actively engaged in the discussion on the future of the hydrogen market in the European Union.

1. Current state

Currently, with a production of around 1.3 million tonnes, Poland is the third largest producer of hydrogen in the world. However, it is not low carbon hydrogen as it is mainly produced by refineries and chemical factories and does not use the process of electrolysis of water. Apart from a few prototypes of electrolysers produced as part of R&D programs, in Poland there is no functional system for producing green hydrogen.

At this point, the state of the hydrogen economy value chain is inadequate / unacceptable, and existing solutions that could be part of the future hydrogen economy value chain are at a standstill. different (often insufficient) levels of technological readiness. However, the new regulatory environment and the incentives, including financial ones, make Poland a very attractive market for investments in the production and use of hydrogen.

2. Objectives

The strategy sets out six key objectives for the hydrogen economy in Poland:

(a) implementation of hydrogen technologies in the electricity and heat sector

The use of low carbon hydrogen technologies in the electricity and heat sector leads to a reduction in CO2 emissions and to the diversification of the structure of energy and heat production through reducing the use of fossil fuels, as well as improving national energy security. According to the strategy:

(i) for the next five years, the focus will be on supporting R&D on cogeneration and polygeneration systems so that by 2025 Polish technologies can be used for the implementation of P2G systems ( power-to-gas) with an electricity consumption of at least 1 MW.

(ii) By 2030, cogeneration and polygeneration systems should be installed in residential buildings, office buildings and utilities. 2030 is also expected to mark the start of the use of hydrogen for energy storage from renewable sources.

(b) use of hydrogen as an alternative fuel in transport

The substitution of conventional fuels by hydrogen in public transport, road, rail and sea, as well as in air transport is essential to achieve the goal of low carbon transport. Among the actions planned in the Strategy are the production and use of 100 or even up to 250 hydrogen buses by 2025, followed by the actual use of 1,000 buses by 2030, the construction of more at least 32 hydrogen service stations, the development of hydrogen trains and ships and the production of synthetic fuels.

(c) support for the decarbonisation of industry

The use of low-carbon hydrogen reduces greenhouse gas emissions in these sectors of the economy, which are difficult to electrify and therefore a brake on achieving climate neutrality. In order to promote the decarbonization of the industry, support will be given to activities aimed at obtaining and using low carbon hydrogen in petrochemical, chemical and fertilizer production processes, as well as in construction. of at least five hydrogen valleys in Poland, which will be the Centers of Excellence for the implementation of the hydrogen economy.

(d) hydrogen production in new systems

To achieve climate neutrality, hydrogen production must be based on low or zero carbon sources. For this reason, the actions foreseen in the strategy include the R&D on low carbon technologies of hydrogen production and the launch of systems for the production of hydrogen from low emission sources with a minimum power of 50 MW, such as water electrolysis and biomethane vapor reforming. By 2030, these systems are expected to reach 2 GW of power.

(e) efficient and safe hydrogen transfer, distribution and storage

For the development of the hydrogen economy, it is crucial to implement efficient and safe hydrogen transfer, distribution and storage. Therefore, the strategy foresees the development of the transition and electricity distribution network, including the adaptation of the existing gas infrastructure, as well as the preparation of plans for a new one, including the so-called highway of hydrogen (North-South gas pipeline). In addition, the focus is on R&D on lightweight tanks for the distribution of hydrogen and the use of salt caves as hydrogen storage.

(f) creation of a stable regulatory environment

Finally, the development of a hydrogen economy is not possible without a favorable regulatory environment. The establishment of a regulatory framework for hydrogen as an alternative fuel in transport, followed by other regulations providing the legal basis for the functioning of the hydrogen market in Poland, remains the key to the development of a business-friendly regulatory environment. Several laws must be amended in 2022 and 2023 to promote the development of the hydrogen economy.

3. Non-legislative measures

On October 14, 2021, representatives of the government administration, entrepreneurs, scientists and NGOs signed a sectoral agreement on the creation of the hydrogen economy in Poland. The signatories pledged to take certain long-term measures for the development of the new sector, including updating education programs to build up a specialized workforce, as well as developing profitable models for production. , storage and supply of low carbon and renewable hydrogen. .

The strategy also involves several non-legislative measures which are supposed to be taken by the Polish government, such as the establishment of a hydrogen technology center, a special unit responsible, for example, for the coordination of R&D projects, launch of new projects and provision of consultancy services. and hydrogen education. The strategy also describes the creation of the Polish hydrogen valley innovation ecosystem, the training of qualified personnel, international cooperation, educational action and social campaigns to promote the use of hydrogen. .

4. Funding

To ensure the development of the Polish hydrogen economy, the strategy foresees ensuring adequate financing programs available to entrepreneurs, as well as the creation of research units and public entities. The Strategy mentions several programs and funding methods, both at European and national level, including IPCEI (Important Projects of Common European Interest), CEF (Connecting Europe Facility Energy), the Just Transition Mechanism, funding from the National Environment Conservation and Water Management Fund (programs such as “New energies”, “Green public transport” and “Hydrogenation of the economy”) and the National Research and Development Center (eg support for the Hydrogen Technologies program).

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