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  • E.On sponsored report by Energy Economics at the University of Cologne sees electrolyzers fit to take pressure from Germany’s electricity grid
  • Experts worry about the low efficiency (around 30%) of converting electricity to hydrogen and call for a definition of “green hydrogen”

June 27 2024 13:44:17 — Electrolyzers, pivotal in hydrogen production, have the potential to significantly relieve pressure on Germany’s electricity grid and support the hydrogen ramp-up, according to a new report by the Institute of Energy Economics at the University of Cologne (EWI). The report was Commissioned by E.ON and the Thüga Group.

The pressure on the electricity grid in Germany primarily stems from the increasing integration of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.

These sources are intermittent and can cause fluctuations in the supply of electricity, leading to potential imbalances between supply and demand. During periods of high renewable energy generation, excess electricity can overload the grid, necessitating curtailments to prevent instability and blackouts.

Industry experts on LinkendIn welcomed the report: Hydrogen, especially when produced from renewable sources – green hydrogen – , can be stored and used to generate electricity when needed, reducing strain on the grid during peak demand. This could be particularly helpful in Europe as they transition to more renewable energy sources that can be intermittent.

However, some cautioned that large-scale electrolyzers will inevitably push producers to sell some hydrogen.

“What about additionality criteria? You can produce hydrogen from grid with renewable PPA (with temporal correlation), but it cannot be labelled as “green”. It is true that if you do not want to sell this hydrogen, but it is only converted into electricity in a fuel cell perhaps this is not an issue. However, if you want to sell part of this hydrogen, it will not be considered as green.”

Prof. José Ignacio Linares Hurtado, a specialist in Industrial Engineering at Madrid’s Universidad Pontificia Comillas commented:

EWI’s analysis focused on three size categories of electrolyzers: less than 10 megawatts, 10 to 50 megawatts, and over 50 megawatts. Smaller electrolyzers, under 10 megawatts, could have a substantial system-supporting impact by 2030, especially in regions like Dithmarschen in Schleswig-Holstein and the central German chemical triangle, which both have high hydrogen demand and renewable energy potential.

For larger electrolyzers, regions in northern Germany, along with the Ruhr and Rhineland areas, were identified as optimal locations due to their connectivity to the future hydrogen infrastructure. These more powerful units could further bolster the hydrogen economy and energy grid stability.

The findings from the EWI report underscore the importance of strategic electrolyzer placement to meet future hydrogen demands and enhance the overall energy system’s resilience and sustainability.

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