Our economy has so far been powered by fossil fuels such as coal and oil – with the all the known impacts. But ‘green’ hydrogen (H2) is seen as the energy carrier of the future. Massive expansion of renewable energies will be necessary to compensate for the loss of electricity from conventional generation. And the energy transition requires approaches such as sector coupling and innovative storage technologies.
Hydrogen technology offers great potential. And a new ecologically and economically sustainable value chain is being created based on the hydrogen economy. This involves not only the production of hydrogen, but also its storage, transport and ultimately its use – including any necessary conversion processes.
The green hydrogen value chain starts with hydrogen production using renewable primary energies such as sun, wind, biomass and residual waste incineration. The process is based on the electrolysis of water, that is, using electricity to split water molecules (H2O) into the elements hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2).
Hydrogen produced in this way is temporarily stored as a gas or liquid, and transported to consumers by tankers or gas pipelines, if necessary. Distribution can take place at service stations, for example, allowing cars and trucks to be refuelled. Other users include barges, power stations, and district and building heating systems. Green hydrogen thus serves as a way of storing renewable energy and can be used to decarbonize a range of industries. It will also contribute to achieving the German Federal Government’s carbon reduction goals.
Hydrogen has many applications: In the chemical and steel sectors – and in cement production – hydrogen offers a way to reduce carbon emissions. In the transport sector, cars, trucks and ships can be powered by green hydrogen – either by using it as a synthetic fuel or to power a fuel cell.
And when it comes to district and building heating, the waste heat from electricity generation can be used for heating. Other possible applications for hydrogen include use in the chemical industry, injection into the natural gas distribution network, and reconversion into electricity.
What is the advantage of green hydrogen? Carbon-neutral energy is supplied as a fuel, electricity or heat. In other words, there are no additional carbon emissions. For example, if hydrogen is converted directly in a fuel cell in a ship or truck, the only emission is water vapor!
One current disadvantage, however, is that losses occur in the conversion of renewable energy into hydrogen – and in every further process step. The Hydrogen team at Drees & Sommer focuses on tailor-made solutions in order to be able to use green hydrogen efficiently depending on prevailing conditions. The goal is to achieve significant decarbonization of the energy system.
Drees & Sommer teams support clients in the strategic development of complex energy projects and programs. We accompany you from the first potential analysis to operational realization and commissioning of plants and systems.
Our experts are already involved in projects at this early stage of a future hydrogen economy. The consultants also inform local authorities and the public sector about the advantages of the technology in the context of the German Federal Government’s National Hydrogen Strategy.
Drees & Sommer provides support throughout the entire value chain from production, transport and storage to the use of green hydrogen. Our expertise includes structural, engineering and infrastructural consulting for plants and buildings as well as concepts, planning and effective realization.