The European Commission has recently set out plans for the energy system of the future and published the European hydrogen strategy. The three main pillars of this strategy reflect a strong focus on an “energy efficiency first” principle. This includes a greater direct electrification of end use sectors – heat-pumps in buildings are explicitly mentioned as an example how to increase the use of green electricity where possible. The focus of the hydrogen strategy is on “sectors that are not suitable for electrification” and the opportunities to use hydrogen as a means for “storage to balance variable renewable energy flows”. In particular the strategy intends to “boost the demand for clean hydrogen coming from industrial applications and mobility technologies”. Even in the long term vision up to 2050, the use of hydrogen is seen mostly in industry, for fuelling buses and trucks, in synthetic fuels for aviation and shipping and as clean combustible for back-up power plants.
This recent study analyses the role of green hydrogen in the future energy system for the German case and proposes a clear prioritization of the future hydrogen use across all sectors based on its potential to mitigate climate change and where alternatives are not available at reasonable cost or in the required quantities. A special focus of the study commissioned by the Information Center for Heat Pumps and Cooling Technology (IZW) is given on heat in buildings by comparing the use of green hydrogen as a combustible for heat in buildings with the direct use of electricity in the form of heat pumps.
The study’s findings are clear: hydrogen is not a viable option when it comes to heating buildings. The amount of green electricity needed to produce green hydrogen for this purpose is 500 to 600 percent greater than the amount needed to power an equivalent number of heat pumps.
“The differences in efficiency are so large that it is unreasonable to propose the wide-spread use of hydrogen for heat in buildings,” Prof. Dr. Clemens Hoffmann, the Executive Director of Fraunhofer IEE, says.
The authors of the study put Germany’s production potential for green hydrogen at 50 to 150 TWh. This is only 5 to 25 percent of the demand projected for 2050. The authors do recommend the priority use of hydrogen when there are no good alternatives to fossil fuels. The most relevant hydrogen applications include synthetic fuels for airplanes and ships; the production of ammonia, methanol, and steel; and the supply of power plants with and without CHP.
If hydrogen were to replace the natural gas used for building heating, demand would increase by another 25 to 40 percent. The authors thus conclude that the direct use of electrical energy is the much preferred option for the decarbonisation of distributed heat generation. According to the study, the additional electricity demand for heat pumps can be covered almost entirely by Germany’s own renewable energy sources. Moreover, the authors say that the power grid can handle the additional load, in part because heat pumps are capable of storing energy.
In the main, the findings support the course currently pursued by the German federal government - whose national hydrogen strategy predominantly assigns the heat market a secondary role – as well as the priorities of the European Green Deal.
The study can be downloaded at: https://s.fhg.de/r3t
An online presentation of the study and follow-up discussion will take place on:
22 July 2020 at 16:00 – 17:15:
In view of the current discussion on the use of hydrogen, the question arises to what extent a new assessment of the fields of application must be made if compared to the power-to-gas approach (conversion from electricity to hydrogen to methane) with an overall efficiency of around 60% hydrogen with an overall efficiency of around 75%.
The study provides answers to this and other aspects that also link to the EU Strategy for Energy System Integration and the EU Hydrogen Strategy and that we would like to present to you online. We also discuss the results of the study with:
· Patrick Crombez, Member of the board, European Heat Pump Association
· Jochen Bard, Fraunhofer IEE
· Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, Hydrogen Europe
· Introduction to the topic and presentation of the study by Jochen Bard, Fraunhofer IEE
· Round table discussion with the panellists
Please register at firstname.lastname@example.org