Russia can dominate the European hydrogen market in the coming years, according to a special envoy of President Vladimir Putin.

Former deputy prime minister Anatoly Chubais told a gathering in Moscow on Monday that “Russia has unprecedented chances to take over the huge European hydrogen market” as part of a “national project of colossal scale”.

Hydrogen: hype, hope and the hard truths around its role in the energy transition
Will hydrogen be the skeleton key to unlock a carbon-neutral world? Subscribe to Accelerate Hydrogen, powered by Recharge and Upstream, and get the market insight you need for this rapidly evolving global market.

The president’s special envoy for relations with international organisations pointed to the European Hydrogen Strategy, unveiled in July 2020, which called for at least 40GW of electrolysers in the EU producing 10 million tonnes of green hydrogen annually by 2030, and a further 40GW of renewable H2 imports from neighbouring countries by the same date.

Chubais said that Russia’s share of the European hydrogen market could amount to $20bn-30bn annually — which amounts to more than the country’s natural-gas exports to the EU in 2019 ($17.9bn).

“This is a new industry that can be definitely created for export… this is a national project of colossal scale, which we can and should deploy in the coming years, if not quarters,” he told the workshop, entitled “Mechanisms of state carbon regulation: possible consequences for the Russian economy”, according to the Tass news agency.

Last week, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin created a “hydrogen working group” in partnership with the country's oil & gas majors to co-ordinate the future export of mainly blue hydrogen to Europe and Asia.

Chubais told this week's workshop that due to the large quantities of natural gas in Russia, “it is right for Russia to start with blue [hydrogen derived from fossil gas with carbon capture and storage] and then gradually increase the share of green [H2 produced from renewable energy]”.

But with the EU focusing on green hydrogen, and Russia's terrible record on methane emissions, will Europe even want to import blue H2 from its antagonistic neighbour?

“Russia has fantastic opportunities for renewable energy. Russia is the number one country in the world in terms of wind potential,” Chubais declared.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, Russia had 945MW of wind power installed at the end of 2020, compared to 176,842MW in the EU-27.