There is very little legislation that specifically relates to hydrogen projects. Instead, hydrogen projects must navigate the existing legislative landscape which applies to renewable energy projects and gases generally. The most significant relevant laws are:
- Energy Act No. 251/2012 Coll. and on Amendments to Certain Acts;
- Act no. 309/2009 Coll. on the Promotion of Renewable Energy Sources and Highly Efficient Cogeneration and on Amendments to Certain Acts; and
- Act no. 250/2012 Coll. on Regulation in Network Industries.
The Slovak gas market is regulated by the Regulatory Office for Network Industries, a government administration body for the national regulation of network industries.
The Slovak Ministry of Economy and its Slovak Innovation and Energy Agency are crucial for further development of hydrogen projects in Slovakia. They lead and coordinate efforts in the field of renewable energy and oversee allocation of appropriate government and European funds. Since March 2020, the development of hydrogen projects and technologies has been promoted by the Minister of the Economy.
Injection into the gas grid – blending hydrogen into the existing gas networks
The injection of hydrogen into the gas grid is not explicitly regulated at present. Existing laws on injection, transport, and use of gas would apply to hydrogen as they do for methane gas. Slovakia has not introduced its own legislation regarding hydrogen blending. Instead, Slovakia is monitoring the efforts of other EU countries which have introduced limits on the injection of hydrogen into the gas grid and are undertaking research to raise the limit to between 20 and 30 per cent. According to the National Hydrogen Strategy, the Government will examine the potential of the natural gas transmission network to be used also for hydrogen transport if its capacity will not be fully utilised for the transport of natural gas. At the same time, solutions will be sought for the technological adaptation of the gas distribution network to the possibilities of distribution of hydrogen, depending on the development of the hydrogen market.
The natural gas distribution network is very well developed in the Slovak Republic. According to the National Hydrogen Strategy, it will be possible to use the Slovak gas distribution network for the transport and distribution of hydrogen after technical modifications, which will be preceded by a detailed expert analysis of the technical condition of the pipelines. The use of hydrogen and various forms of gaseous mixtures containing hydrogen will play an important role in the decarbonisation of the heating and industry in the Slovak republic.
Real Estate and Consenting
Major hydrogen projects are likely to be considered as significant national investments which may be subject to faster planning proceedings. Significant investments are defined and regulated by Act No. 175/1999 Coll. on Certain Measures Concerning the Preparation of Significant Investments and on Amendments to Certain Acts.
In case of building a new site as part of a hydrogen project or rebuilding an existing site for such purpose, all relevant provisions of Act No. 50/1976 Coll. Act on Spatial Planning and Building Regulations (Building Act) must be complied with.
In relation to storage and production of hydrogen on site, an Environmental Impact Assessment (“EIA”) may be required according to Act No. 24/2006 Coll. on Environmental Impact Assessment and on Amendments to Certain Acts.
Health and Safety
Health and Safety relating to hydrogen is not explicitly regulated. However, the following health and safety regulations, that deal with the treatment of dangerous gases, would have to be complied with:
- Act No. 124/2006 Coll. on Safety and Health at Work and on Amendments to Certain Acts;
- Act No. 67/2010 Coll. on Conditions for Placing Chemical Substances and Chemical Mixtures on the Market and on Amendments to Certain Acts (Chemical Act); and
- Act No. 128/2015 Coll. on the Prevention of Serious Industrial Accidents and on Amendments to Certain Acts, which lists hydrogen as a dangerous substance.
Everyone involved in the control of handling hazardous chemical substances in the workplace must be familiar with the EU legislative framework for dangerous substances, including health and safety legislation concerning protection of employees from health and safety risks in general and from hazardous substances in the workplace. Also, employers are required to carry out a workplace risk assessment for all safety and health risks, including those arising from hazardous substances, and to lay down appropriate protective and preventive measures
Transport of hydrogen by road
Slovakia is a member party of the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (“ADR”).
The ADR regulates the transport of hydrogen, which is classified as a dangerous good under Annex 5.
Drivers transporting hydrogen in Slovakia must receive appropriate training and vehicles must meet specifications required for hazardous cargoes.