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Renewable energy sector banking on hydrogen

Nine out of ten companies rely on technology of the future, survey by Hamburg's EEHH finds

The Renewable Energy Hamburg cluster has surveyed around 200 member companies about the potential of hydrogen, which is dominating the industry at present. The above-average number of respondents indicates the keen interest in hydrogen, according to EEHH. Around 100 experts in the network had taken part in the survey.

“Nine out of ten respondents consider it very important that hydrogen technology be further developed to store fluctuating electricity from renewable energies and thus increase the stability of the energy supply,” said Jan Rispens, Managing Director of EEHH, adding, “Around 81 per cent consider the role of hydrogen in sector coupling very important. These are clear figures that speak for themselves with regard to the industry’s expectations of the technology.”

Potential of hydrogen

Various fields of application for hydrogen are relevant, the respondents said. Approximately three quarters support the use of environment-friendly hydrogen as a pure fuel and as an additive in the regular natural gas system while 60 per cent believe conversion into biomethane (synthetic natural gas) would be sensible. The majority see future potential for hydrogen in medium to long-term energy storage and in mobility (about 85 per cent each). More than 60 per cent consider the time-delayed conversion of hydrogen back into electricity an important application. Heat supply could also be another key application for hydrogen, according to 50 per cent of respondents. Industries such as energy-intense chemical and steel production also hold potential, said 40 per cent of respondents.

Use in mobility

Around 85 per cent of respondents called for equivalent support of fuel cell vehicles and e-cars and indicates the importance of hydrogen in mobility. Such backing would help generate predictable demand for environment-friendly-produced hydrogen. Nearly two thirds said that subsidising the expansion of hydrogen filling stations and an admixture quota for hydrogen in natural gas can guarantee continuous, predictable and basic acceptance. About half of industry experts said they are already pushing ahead with their own H2 projects e.g. hydrogen-powered vehicle fleets as well as research and pilot projects on sector coupling including heat generation).

Raising efficiency

Research into hydrogen technology is urgent and should be brought to market maturity, said over 80 per cent of respondents even though hydrogen cannot yet be fully produced with environment-friendly electricity. The greatest obstacles to the development of a large-scale hydrogen sector lie in the current regulation of the energy market, respondents said. The lack of economic viability and of infrastructural funding are the biggest obstacles, according to more than 60 per cent of respondents while 22 per cent was discouraged by the lack of customers, technical problems or difficult scalability of the technology.

Synergy effects

Wind and hydrogen industries will be closely linked in the medium term, according to over 85 per cent of respondents while 28 per cent believe hydrogen production must become the wind industry’s second mainstay alongside grid feed-in. Less than 4 per cent could not see any integration of the industries in the foreseeable future. More than two thirds of respondents said the hydrogen strategy of Germany’s five coastal states is very important. Nearly 90 per cent said a nationwide hydrogen strategy is even more important while 75 per cent said the German government should support these pilot projects.

Most companies expressed satisfaction with the steps taken at federal level so far. Two thirds of respondents see high or very high potential for sustainability via the “Real Laboratories for the Energy Transition” announced by the German Ministry of Economics and Energy. Germany’s northern states consider themselves well positioned for promoting hydrogen technology with their projects. Japan and other east Asian countries are considered role models for developing hydrogen as “future technologies”.
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Sources and further information:
www.erneuerbare-energien-hamburg.de

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