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Written By

Ian Shine

Senior Writer, Forum Agenda

This article is part of: Centre for Energy and Materials


  • Hydrogen is seen as a key way of cutting global emissions, though more pipelines are needed to help move the fuel to the places where it is needed.
  • Europe is leading the way on hydrogen pipeline plans, but Oman is preparing to lay the world’s single longest line.
  • Hydrogen could help to decarbonize a range of sectors that might otherwise find it hard to go greener, such as long-haul transport and heavy industries, the World Economic Forum’s Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2023 report says.

Producing clean energy does not automatically cut emissions. Producing clean energy and enabling people to use it is what actually cuts emissions.

This means connecting the places that produce clean energy with the consumers that need to use it.

We often see the power lines that carry electricity to our houses, but less visible are the pipelines that move other forms of energy across countries and continents. Yet pipelines will be indispensable for enabling wider use of one of the most talked-up fuels of the energy transition – hydrogen.

Graphics showcasing the selected shades of hydrogen.

There are many different ways hydrogen can be produced. Image: International Renewable Energy Agency

Hydrogen comes in many forms, but the cleanest versions – made by breaking apart water atoms using renewable or nuclear energy – can help to decarbonize a range of sectors that might otherwise find it hard to go greener. These include long-haul transport such as ships, lorries and planes, and heavy industrial processes such as iron, steel and chemical production, as the World Economic Forum’s Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2023 report says.

Hydrogen is an increasingly important piece of the net zero emissions by 2050 puzzle,” the International Energy Agency (IEA) says. However, “very limited” transport infrastructure to move hydrogen from producers to consumers has been posing a problem.

But there are signs that things are starting to change.

Hydrogen pipelines are spreading

The “SoutH2 Corridor” also links to North Africa and could deliver 40% of the hydrogen needed under the EU’s RePowerEU targets to clean up the energy system. The bloc aims to import 10 million tonnes of hydrogen by 2030 and to produce another 10 million tonnes itself.

Map illustrating SoutH2 Corridor's hydrogen pipelines.

The SoutH2 Corridor is a 3,300km network of hydrogen pipelines. Image: SoutH2 Corridor

The SoutH2 Corridor is intended to form part of a “European Hydrogen Backbone” supporting the continent’s clean energy plans.

The Backbone plan envisions Europe having 11,600km of hydrogen pipelines by 2030 and almost 40,000km by 2040.

Map showcasing the hydrogen pipelines across different countries.

Europe aims to have 40,000km of hydrogen pipelines by 2040. Image: European Hydrogen Backbone

A line running under the sea from Barcelona in Spain to Marseille in France is also being planned – and there are plans to extend it to Germany.

The Iberian Corridor, also known as the H2Med project, will be able to move 2 million tonnes of green hydrogen – that’s 10% of Europe’s hydrogen consumption target. The route is expected to be commissioned in 2030.

The World Economic Forum’s Accelerating Clean Hydrogen Initiative has updated its Renewable Hydrogen Roadmap for Europe. The initiative is working with over 200 members from 60 public and private-sector organizations around the world to turn hydrogen announcements into action and pledges into real projects.

Map showing the hydrogen pipelines worldwide.

Spain and France will be linked by a hydrogen pipeline. Image: Enagas/REPowerEU

World leaders on hydrogen pipelines

But in terms of single countries, Oman in the Middle East leads the pack. It is preparing to run a 1,000km line all the way from the south to the north of the country.

This is part of why Denmark is on track to lead the way in Europe. It is expected to account for 35% of the world’s new hydrogen pipelines between 2022 and 2026, by which time it could have 800km.

Denmark’s expansive wind power generation puts it in a strong position to become a top green hydrogen producer in Europe. Wind power produces 55% of Denmark’s electricity – a higher share than any other country.

Graphs illustrating the share of total electricity production.

Denmark’s high wind power production could help make it a leading producer of green hydrogen. Image: Ember

Leading hydrogen pipelines

Other notable hydrogen pipelines being planned include Italy’s Snam Hydrogen route which runs to 440km.

All of Asia’s hydrogen pipelines are being built in China. It has plans for three lines, named Ulanqab Beijing, Shandong Hydrogen, and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region Hydrogen. But a planned India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor is expected to include a hydrogen pipeline, with the aim of enabling exports to the EU.

The Middle East has more than doubled its planned clean hydrogen capacity in the past year, to more than 80, and aims to become a key exporter to other countries by 2030. Saudi Arabia wants to become the world’s biggest hydrogen supplier, while the UAE and Qatar are also working to boost capacity to meet rising global demand.

North America’s hydrogen plans

In North America, both the US and Canada are eyeing hydrogen pipelines. The US already has 1,600km of hydrogen lines and its HyBlend initiative is exploring ways of using its existing natural gas pipelines to transport hydrogen.

Canada’s hydrogen plans include a project in Quebec expected to help cut the province’s carbon emissions by 3% this decade.

Infographic showcasing Canada's hydrogen production potential.

Canada sees hydrogen as a way of cutting its emissions. Image: Government of Canada

Hydrogen plans in Latin America

Latin America’s substantial potential to produce renewable energy means it could be a leading source of low-cost, low-carbon hydrogen, the IEA says. A total of 11 countries in the region have hydrogen strategies

Chile believes it can produce the world’s lowest-cost hydrogen by 2030 and wants to be one of the top three hydrogen exporters by 2040. Like the US and many other countries, Chile is looking at how its natural gas pipelines could be used to safely move hydrogen, or allow hydrogen to be blended with natural gas.

The World Economic Forum’s Industrial Clusters initiative is creating global centres for hydrogen activity, bringing together stakeholders across the entire hydrogen value chain and aligning them around common goals. This is enabling cluster members to source hydrogen from multiple producers, and allowing suppliers to take advantage of a readily available pool of potential offtakers.

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