A final investment decision on a 100km hydrogen pipeline between France and Germany will be taken “very soon”, Sandrine Meunier, CEO of France’s main gas transmission system operator GRTGaz told a Paris conference yesterday (Wednesday).

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“This will be GRTGaz’s first final investment decision [FID] in 2024,” she told delegates at Hyvolution, according to French news agency AFP — less than a week after starting her new job.

The MosaHYc project will connect the Moselle department in northeast France to steelmaker Stahl-Holding-Saar’s (SHS) facilities in the neighbouring German state of Saarland.

In December, the European Commission approved €2.6bn ($2.85bn) of state aid from the German government to SHS, which will go towards replacing existing blast furnaces and oxygen with two electric arc furnaces and a hydrogen-fired direct iron reduction plant.

About 70km of the pipeline — which will consist of converted natural-gas pipes that are no longer in use — will be on the French side of the border.

The draft update of France’s 2020 national hydrogen strategy — which was unveiled in December, ahead of sign-off this spring — called for 500km of hydrogen pipelines “in the short term” to connect forthcoming industrial hydrogen hubs to large H2 storage facilities.

However, the exact routes of these pipelines will not be decided until 2026, by which time the regulations surrounding their use should be finalised.

GRTGaz’s director of development, Anthony Mazzenga, told the Hyvolution conference that future FIDs on hydrogen pipelines will be taken according to demand.

“We only decide to install pipes if we have customers, which is why the transmission networks will mainly be installed around [industrial] basins that use this sought-after gas to allow the decarbonisation of heavy industries, from petrochemicals to cement, fertilisers or the steel industry,” Mazzenga said, according to AFP.

“What is important to us is to have customers who will provide us with reserved transport capacity over 10 or 15 years,” Mazzenga added.

He added that GRTGaz would carry out offshore studies this year to confirm the route of the planned “Bar-Mar” subsea pipeline between Barcelona, Spain, and Marseille, France, which is a key part of the wider H2Med hydrogen corridor connecting Portugal and Spain to Germany via France.

According to the GRTGaz website, the MosaHYc (Moselle-Saar HYdrogen Conversion) pipeline will be a collaboration with German gas distributor Creos, and is scheduled to be commissioned in 2027.

GRTGaz operates all the gas transmission pipelines in France, apart from an area in the country's southwest that is run by a company called TIGF.