Three German gas distribution operators have teamed up to convert existing gas pipelines into a hydrogen shipping network connecting the north and south of the country and nearby nations.

Gascade, Ontras and Terranets announced the first part of the pipeline would be operational by 2025, and would connect the northern port of Lubmin to the eastern region of Thuringia.

By 2028, it would reach further south to Rhineland-Palatinate and, subsequently, Baden Wurttemberg and Bavaria.

The project, called Flow, would use existing high-pressure gas pipelines covering 1100 kilometres as north to south corridor for hydrogen shipping. The infrastructure would have feed-in capacity of up to 20 gigawatts.

The imported hydrogen would come in from the northern ports and travel south to reach consumers across the country.

The plan is to connect the network to the Danish island of Bornholm in 2027, and to Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland and France from 2030, said Gascade managing director Christoph von dem Bussche.

“The advantage of Flow lies in the rapid implementation thanks to converting the gas pipelines. We will achieve a large transport capacity from northern Germany to the south that the market can prepare for in its plans,” said Terranets managing director Katrin Flinspach.

The companies have applied for the status of Project of Common Interest to the European Union, which would unlock bloc funding for the development.

Separately, the German government launched in early December an auction process to import green hydrogen derivatives, through the H2Global fund ministerial funding worth €900 million ($952 million) that was earmarked last year.

The procurement programme aims to purchase green hydrogen products internationally for re-sale to EU based consumers.

The first deliveries and Europe are scheduled for the end of 2024.

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