All of the IPCEIs in the call are looking to produce hydrogen, fuel cells and/or end-user applications for the mobility sector, and also to store, transport and distribute hydrogen itself. The main objective behind H2I-S&D is to identify both an appropriate location for storing hydrogen mixed with natural gas and to determine the maximum possible concentration that could be stored in a porous geological structure.
The project is divided into two phases. First, the R&D phase identifies suitable geological formations for storing a mixture of hydrogen and natural gas, with laboratory research defining the maximum permissible concentration of hydrogen that can be stored. The second phase of the project involves the construction of a pilot operation where selected geological formations will be physically tested. Depending on what results the first phase produces, either pure hydrogen or hydrogen mixed with natural gas will be injected and withdrawn from a formation. "A specialty of the project will be a so-called deblending facility, in other words a technology for separating hydrogen,” revealed Roman Závada, NAFTA’s Chief Innovation Officer. “Gas will be returned at a certain concentration to whatever customer injected it and it will then be mixed with the gas in the storage facility.”
“IPCEI’s main role is to join the public and private sectors together to deliver large-scale innovative projects impacting competitiveness and sustainability across the European Union. A total of more than 430 projects have gotten engaged in the IPCEI Hydrogen Challenge, the most ever, and the great news is that NAFTA's Slovakian project was one of the first to be approved, with others awaiting notification in the next waves,” explained Peter Blaškovitš, General Director of the Slovak Innovation and Energy Agency, which oversaw national section of IPCEI projects. “Other Slovakian companies are seeking to take advantage of the unique opportunity to get involved in cutting-edge research into hydrogen technologies and of IPCEI to bring fundamental solutions to life, and we are glad to have helped them do so.”
A total of 41 projects launched by 35 companies have been included in the European call, with the European Commission approving the maximum amount of state assistance, totaling €5.4 billion. These funds will be released from the national resources of 15 Member States, with a further €8.8 billion anticipated to come from private investment.
A commitment to support IPCEI hydrogen projects was agreed by 22 EU Member States and Norway in December 2020. Each of them has prepared a national call for expression of interest. In Slovakia’s own national selection, expert evaluators recommended 15 of the 32 submitted projects for consideration by the European Commission. The projects were subsequently grouped in value chains with the intention of bringing companies together, according to their preferences, in IPCEI “waves” to share their experiences and to collaborate. The European Commission expects the IPCEI to create around 20,000 direct jobs in the hydrogen sector.