LONDON : Turkey is preparing to start blending hydrogen into the gas distribution network following the successful completion of laboratory tests in recent months.
Mehmet Serif Sarikaya, the projects and international relations manager of the distribution association Gazbir, told ICIS on Monday distribution companies would apply for permission for blending to the regulator EPDK in July.
If permission is granted, Izmir Gas would be looking to start blending hydrogen into the system in the western Izmir industrial region.
Meanwhile, Aksa Natural Gas, another important distribution company would be expected to do similar tests for households.
The scale of the project is yet to be determined as this would depend on the level of funding offered by the regulator, the ministry of energy or the private sector.
Sarikaya said an estimated Turkish lira (TL) 30m (€3m) would be needed to cover two- to three-year tests targeting around 20 homes and some industrial consumers starting from 2022.
Gazbir and its research arm, Gazmer, have carried out a series of blending tests in laboratory over the last year.
The completion of tests culminated with the publication of a roadmap in March and the launch of a clean energy centre in Konya, central Anatolia, which will focus on hydrogen and biogas. The centre was officially opened by the minister of energy at the beginning of April.
The roadmap includes nine objectives which Turkey should pursue in its energy transition to carbon neutrality. The blueprint is expected to inform a wider national hydrogen strategy which the government is expected to publish in the first quarter of 2022 at the latest.
The nine objectives include:
– Setting up a working group
– Outlining gas quality and safety standards
– Providing technical compliance studies
– Defining the transition and integration process
– Involving natural gas users
– Attracting human resources
– Defining research, development and investment parameters
– Producing regulation studies
– Establishing a hydrogen market
Sarikaya said Turkey would aim to reach the objectives in four phases, noting that in the immediate period up to 2025, the focus will be on research and development followed by blending tests at different grades in the distribution and transmission networks between 2025-2030.
The aim is to build additional hydrogen-ready infrastructure between 2030-2040 which would allow the entire transmission and distribution network to be fully compatible by 2050.
Turkey has vast potential to produce electrolysed hydrogen produced from renewable energy.
Its installed hydro capacity hovers around 30GW, wind capacity is just shy of 9GW while total licensed and unlicensed solar capacity is close to 7GW.
With Turkey’s wind potential estimated by the ministry of energy at 48GW, Turkey could further expand its renewable fleet to contribute to the production of hydrogen.
A study published in February by SHURA, a local think tank, found that if Turkey were to install 50GW of solar capacity in addition to other clean forms of generation, the excess supplies could be used to produce hydrogen which would then be stored.
The report found that electrolysed hydrogen could help transform multiple end-use sectors, estimating for a first phase a production potential of 4.6 million tones of oil equivalent (Mtoe) of hydrogen, or the equivalent of 5% of Turkey’s total energy consumption in 2018.
Out of the total, 2.1Mtoe would be used in the industrial sector, 1.8Mtoe in freight and 0.6Mtoe in gas grid blending.
This would require a total electrolyser capacity of 12.1GW. Another 36.3GW of renewable electricity capacity would be needed for the electrolysis.
The overall price tag would amount to $45.4billion.
The electrolysed hydrogen substitution potential would vary from as low as 5% in the gas grid to as much as 15% in the transport, cement, plastics, chemicals and petrochemicals sectors.
Even so, 5% hydrogen blending in the gas infrastructure could help save Turkey $0.6bn annually, the report said.
The study found that laboratory tests carried out for blending at grades up to 20% have been successful but stressed that any blending above that grade would require significant changes to the existing infrastructure and end-user appliances.
The development of a hydrogen sector in Turkey could help mitigate the impact of a carbon border adjustment tax which the EU expects to apply on imports from non-EU states, the report found.
Sarikaya said hydrogen production and use would most likely focus on four key areas: transport, blending in the transmission and distribution infrastructure, production and exports.
He said Turkey was exploring the possibility of using its lignite reserves to develop grey hydrogen. However, the production process would be polluting, Turkey would have to consider developing carbon capture and storage facilities (CCS) to trap emissions.
He insisted, however, that Turkey would be exporting electrolysed hydrogen to Europe.