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1 Dec, 2021 09:17

Russia planning to swap gas for hydrogen exports as EU goes green

Russia planning to swap gas for hydrogen exports as EU goes green

With much of Europe setting its sights on renewable energy and weaning themselves off fossil fuels, Moscow has unveiled a new proposal to save its status as a major exporter of fuel across the continent for the future.

The plan, set out in a statement on the Kremlin’s website on Tuesday, comes as part of a larger overview of Russia’s environment policy, with a new strategy to tackle climate change unveiled just weeks ago.

Under the provisions, a project will be launched to study the possibility of exporting clean-burning hydrogen, mixed with methane, through the country’s already-built gas pipelines. This would mean large volumes could be shipped without needing to construct new infrastructure.

Alexander Novak, the deputy prime minister and former minister of energy, will work with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and with Alexey Miller, the head of energy giant Gazprom, to test the pipelines’ capability and negotiate with European nations. The Kremlin has requested a report detailing whether the scheme is possible by the middle of 2022.

The value of Russia’s fuel and energy exports was $167 billion last year, down from $263 billion in 2019, with the country increasingly gaining revenue from sectors like manufacturing and services. Crude oil accounts for the largest share of this, followed by petroleum products and gas. Moscow is the world’s leading exporter of gas and the second largest exporter of crude oil, after Saudi Arabia.

Nations have been increasingly looking to ‘green’ hydrogen as a source of renewable energy. The gas can be used as a low-carbon power source for manufacturing and transportation, but is expensive to produce and difficult to transport. With demand expected to surge, exporters are racing to demonstrate it can be delivered safely and cheaply.

In August, Moscow said it would set up a series of working groups to oversee the country’s transition to green energy, with a focus on renewables and environmental protection. However, Russia has come under fire for setting a carbon neutrality target for 2060, a decade after many other nations. However, President Vladimir Putin has insisted that the country is doing its part to reduce emissions.