THE Scottish Government is accelerating plans for a hydrogen pipeline connecting Scotland to Germany.

Energy Minister Gillian Martin announced on Thursday that The Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC) has been awarded £200,000 to look into the feasibility and economic opportunity of exporting green hydrogen from Scotland to Germany and solidify the case for infrastructure investment.

The MSP for Aberdeenshire East told The National that it represented a “great opportunity” for Scotland, with the proposed pipeline key to unlocking an already burgeoning market for Scottish hydrogen in Europe.

Martin said: “It’s a huge opportunity for companies in Scotland looking to diversify into hydrogen production and those already working to produce hydrogen."

She added: “It's not just Germany, who are obviously moving very fast. We've got interest in Scottish hydrogen from Belgium, from the Netherlands, from Spain – which isn’t an energy producing nation.”

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Green hydrogen refers to gas made by using electricity generated from renewable sources to split water into its two constituent elements (oxygen and hydrogen). When burned, hydrogen does not give off carbon dioxide, and the oxygen by-product has no negative impacts on the atmosphere.

While some critics say it is not very efficient, there is optimism due to the fact that hydrogen could replace natural gas and use much of the existing infrastructure.

The research by NZTC will analyse and integrate work already undertaken by the not-for-profit, as well as several notable European projects currently underway.

An example of this includes NZTC's Hydrogen Backbone Link, which in a report in August, proposed an undersea network of pipelines that would connect Scotland with Ireland and either the Netherlands and/or Germany, making use of existing North Sea infrastructure for natural gas.

They estimated it would cost around £2.8bn to deliver if routed from Scotland to Germany, avoiding England. In the years between 2030 and 2050, the report also noted that Scotland could meet up to 10.5% of Europe’s low-carbon hydrogen import needs.

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“This is infrastructure that is going to be generating a great deal of revenue. We've got potential in Scotland to be producing 25 gigawatts of hydrogen by 2045. And that’s huge,” Martin said, adding that it could also lead to Scotland providing the infrastructure for other hydrogen-producing nations in the North Atlantic.

“Ireland, for example, has got hydrogen production aspirations so providing a route not only for hydrogen produced in Scotland but Ireland as well, we’d be providing a bridge for Irish export.

“It's something that we've already been in talking about during my visit to Ireland in the summer.”

Scottish Government’s Hydrogen Action Plan estimates that the development of a hydrogen economy in Scotland could create between 70,000 to over 300,000 jobs, with potential Gross Value Added (GVA) impacts of between £5 billion and £25 billion a year by 2045 depending on the scale of production and the extent of exports.

Martin stressed, however, that any project needs to be “balanced”.

She said: “We need to balance that export potential with what we can actually be doing domestically because we could be decarbonizing quite a lot of our industrial processes with our own domestic hydrogen.”

Martyn Tulloch, director of energy transition at NZTC, said that analysis from the International Energy Agency shows that Scotland has “vast potential” for green hydrogen production from offshore wind.

He added: “At the same time, it’s widely recognised that Germany will have the greatest demand for low carbon hydrogen as Europe moves towards net zero. This funding marks a significant step forward in strengthening cross-border ties and will position Scotland and Germany at the heart of an integrated North Sea pipeline system.”