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Public Launch: 26-Feb-2019

Economists map out economically viable path to renewables-based hydrogen manufacturing

Technical College of Munich (TUM)

Hydrogen manufacturing primarily based on wind energy can already be commercially viable as we speak. Till now, it was usually assumed that this environmentally pleasant power-to-gas expertise couldn’t be carried out profitably. Economists on the Technical College of Munich (TUM), the College of Mannheim and Stanford College have now described, primarily based available on the market conditions in Germany and Texas, how versatile manufacturing amenities may make this expertise a key part within the transition of the power system.

From fertilizer manufacturing, as a coolant for energy stations or in gasoline cells for vehicles: Hydrogen is a extremely versatile fuel. Right now, most hydrogen for industrial functions is produced utilizing fossil fuels, above all with pure fuel and coal. In an environmentally pleasant power system, nonetheless, hydrogen may play a distinct function: as an necessary storage medium and a way of balancing energy distribution networks: extra wind and photo voltaic power can be utilized to provide hydrogen via water electrolysis. This course of is called power-to-gas. The hydrogen can get well the power later, for instance by producing energy and warmth in gasoline cells, mixing hydrogen into the pure fuel pipeline community or transformed into synthesis fuel.

“Ought to I promote the power or convert it?”

Nevertheless, power-to-gas expertise has at all times been seen as non-competitive. Gunther Glenk of the Chair of Administration Accounting at TUM and Prof. Stefan Reichelstein, a researcher on the College of Mannheim and Stanford College, have now accomplished an evaluation demonstrating the feasibility of zero-emission and worthwhile hydrogen manufacturing. Their examine, printed within the famend journal Nature Vitality, exhibits that one issue is crucial within the present market environments in Germany and Texas:

The idea requires amenities that can be utilized each to feed energy into the grid and to provide hydrogen. These mixed techniques, which aren’t but in frequent use, should reply optimally to the vast fluctuations in wind energy output and costs in energy markets. “The operator can resolve at any time: ought to I promote the power or convert it,” explains Stefan Reichelstein.

Manufacturing in some industries would already be worthwhile as we speak

In Germany and Texas, as much as sure manufacturing output ranges, such amenities may already produce hydrogen at prices aggressive with amenities utilizing fossil fuels. In Germany, nonetheless, the worth granted by the federal government must be paid for the technology of electrical energy as an alternative for feeding it into the grid.

“For medium and small-scale manufacturing, these amenities would already be worthwhile now,” says Reichelstein. Manufacturing on that scale is acceptable for the metallic and electronics industries, for instance – or for powering a fleet of forklift vehicles on a manufacturing unit website. The economists predict that the method can even be aggressive in large-scale manufacturing by 2030, for instance for refineries, ammonia manufacturing, assuming that wind energy and electrolyte prices preserve the downward trajectory seen in recent times. “The use in gasoline cells for vehicles and ships can also be conceivable”, says Glenk.

Vitality sources for clever infrastructure

The economists’ mannequin affords a planning blueprint for business and power coverage. It could keep in mind many different elements, comparable to prices for carbon emissions, and calculate optimum sizing of the 2 sub-systems. Additionally it is relevant to different international locations and areas.

“Energy-to-gas affords new enterprise fashions for corporations in varied industries,” says Glenk. “Energy utilities can change into hydrogen suppliers for business. Producers, in the meantime, can get entangled within the decentralized energy technology enterprise with their very own mixed amenities. In that approach, we will develop a climate-friendly and clever infrastructure that optimally hyperlinks energy technology, manufacturing and transport.”


Publication: G. Glenk, S. Reichelstein: Economics of changing renewable energy to hydrogen. Nature Vitality, 2019. DOI: 10.1038/s41560-019-0326-1

Extra info: Gunther Glenk conducts analysis on the Heart for Vitality Markets of the TUM Faculty of Administration. The examine was supported by the Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung with funding from the Federal Ministry of Schooling and Analysis.

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