16:43 02.07.2021

Energy Ministry mulling prospect of hydrogen production using atomic energy – Dpty Minister

4 min read
Energy Ministry mulling prospect of hydrogen production using atomic energy – Dpty Minister

The Ministry of Energy of Ukraine is mulling the use of atomic energy for the production of climate-neutral hydrogen, Deputy Energy Minister Yaroslav Demchenkov said at a roundtable held on Friday within the Green Deal project at Interfax-Ukraine.

"In our discussions in the Ministry of Energy, we look at the "nuclear" hydrogen energy and the prospects for the production of hydrogen using the atom [via electrolysis]. We also look at the prospects for the production of hydrogen based on natural gas. However, I want to emphasize that in terms of export [to EU] it concerns only "green" hydrogen. No European strategy does say that they will import "yellow" or "blue" hydrogen. Only "green" one – wind or solar," the deputy minister said.

He also said that an active discussion regarding the recognition of nuclear energy as "green" is underway in the European Union.

"We all understand that there is no CO2 there, but there are also other consequences of using the atom that are no less terrible for the environment and humans. However technologies have not remained static and states deal with it. France is such an example," Demchenkov said.

According to Strategic Director of the Regional Gas Company Stanislav Kazda, nuclear energy will eventually become "green" and will be recognized as such for the production of "green" hydrogen.

In addition, during the roundtable, he spoke about the RGK pilot project for the transportation of hydrogen mixtures in gas distribution networks and said that this project is unique not only for Ukraine, but also for Europe.

"Most of the European projects for testing hydrogen are focused on trunk pipelines, transport and production. Very few projects in Europe are aimed at distribution networks and end consumers. There are only about four such projects and we are closely cooperating with all of them... Therefore, in this regard, one can say that Ukraine rushes way ahead," Kazda said.

At the same time, he named three main obstacles to the development of hydrogen energy: lack of investment and low investment attractiveness of Ukraine, lack of a regulatory framework and active promotion of "green" energy by the state.

According to Ukraine Country Representative of the Turkish construction and energy holding Guris in Ukraine Loic Lerminiaux, Ukrainian industrial companies are interested in building a "very large system" for using hydrogen. However, the hydrogen market in Ukraine will be built to the contrary, among other things, in an effort to minimize the potential impact of the so-called EU carbon tax – the carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) – on Ukrainian exports.

"We should understand that the hydrogen market will appear only because there will be such norms, because they will be forced, because there will be CBAM, and this, in my opinion, is the biggest force [for change] in Ukraine, especially for metallurgists," Lerminiaux said.

The head of the hydrogen division of DTEK group Andriy Bondar noted in his speech that DTEK wants to be a company that will help launch the hydrogen industry in Ukraine and confirmed that by the end of this year DTEK plans to launch the first pilot projects for the production of "green" hydrogen in Ukraine, hoping to find the optimal business model for scaling them.

At the same time, Bondar said that high production costs and low capital investments in pilot hydrogen projects do not allow for a rapid increase in capacity.

"One of the cost components of green hydrogen is green electricity and electricity in principle. Even our Ukrainian electricity, which is cheaper than in most European countries, still does not allow us to reach the competitive cost of producing green hydrogen," Bondar said.

According to him, DTEK intends to create industrial clusters for piloting hydrogen projects.