Information from M-TEC Systems
According to the German Energy Storage Association (BVES), the storage industry grew by more than 25% with sales of €8,9 billion in 2021. After a boom in the home storage market, the energy crisis is now providing an important impulse to market segments that were previously reluctant to convert their established energy supply processes.
High energy price fluctuations, an obligation to decarbonise, and the pursuit of security of supply are causing municipalities and local authorities to become more interested in sustainable, emission-free energy and mobility concepts. Renewable energy sources coupled with green hydrogen can significantly reduce import dependencies especially regarding oil and gas.
H-TEC Systems, a company which specialises in green hydrogen, highlights those fields of application where the use of such energy concepts is particularly worthwhile.
The company says that to capitalise on the environmentally-friendly electricity derived from wind and solar resources, it must be stored. Storage allows the energy to be used completely and without losses, the company says.
For this reason, battery storage, and storage technologies such as green hydrogen, are gaining importance. In contrast to batteries, hydrogen is suitable for storing energy over longer periods of time because very little energy is lost. Other approaches, such as storing energy in water storage tanks or as heat in the ground, can make a valuable contribution to winter heat supply but are not suitable for storing electricity, the firm says.
Green hydrogen for regional energy supply
Energy suppliers and infrastructure companies can see ideal areas of application for energy storage and sector coupling using green hydrogen. Renewable energy and water are converted into green hydrogen via electrolysis. This can be conveniently stored over a long period of time in the natural gas network or in tanks. The stored gas can be used to balance peaks in demand and supply. Local authorities and municipalities are increasingly recognising the high risk of further price increases and supply bottlenecks for fossil fuels such as oil and gas and are busy investing in local projects for the use of renewable energies.
Important advantages of using green hydrogen:
Backup storage in case of energy shortages: In the event of energy bottlenecks, stored energy could reduce dependency on energy suppliers. Electricity stored in the form of hydrogen can be called up on site and made available in the grid if required. In projects such as the Emsland funding project “Green H2-Hub Haren”, stored energy contributes to ensuring a better rate of self-sufficiency from renewable energies.
Demand peak shaving: The risk of demand peaks is an important factor for planning and economic efficiency, especially in the municipal sector. For example, solar or wind energy is not available to the same extent in winter and summer.
Price and planning security: In the current context of sharply rising or fluctuating energy prices, the storage of energy from renewable resources can help local authorities and municipalities to plan more reliably. In addition, price fluctuations when purchasing electricity can be better balanced.
Another important consideration is the operating cost. It is important for decision-makers that maintenance and energy costs can be precisely calculated. With concepts based on renewable energy production and green hydrogen, it can be reliably determined how much the gas is likely to cost in the next few years.
When setting up an energy supply or a stable energy infrastructure which integrates green hydrogen as a storage medium, "plug-and-play" systems for PEM electrolysers in a turnkey design that can be used without requiring significant infrastructure work are particularly advantageous. Modern PEM electrolysers for the production of green hydrogen in the magnitude of 1 MW or more come in standard 40 foot containers. These electrolysers are based on an established PEM stack technology that has been available since 2017.
Sustainable mobility concepts
Alongside these advantages, green hydrogen can also be used for mobility applications. A 1 MW system can provide the necessary hydrogen to refuel ten fuel cell buses per day. Similar to fossil fuels, hydrogen is easy to transport but unlike electricity it can also be stored in large quantities and can be used directly for fuel cells. With the help of so-called Power-to-X processes, this opens up new areas of application for the production of emission-free and climate-friendly fuels. These can be used for regional and local public transport, refuse collection vehicles, street cleaning vehicles or the city’s vehicle fleet.
It is important to ensure that the hydrogen produced has the highest possible degree of purity, i.e., the so-called Quality 5.0, so that it can be used for fuel cells in vehicles.
In addition to the obvious advantages, such as energy availability and cost stability of future investments, green hydrogen also contributes to achieving sustainability and decarbonisation goals, including those within the framework of the ESG Reporting Act. This is particularly evident in the transport sector.
Advantages for private energy systems of regional users
The electrolysis process not only produces hydrogen but also heat as a by-product at around 60°C – valuable energy that can be fed into the district heating network or used directly for heating nearby residential and business premises in the community. The system efficiency of PEM electrolysers can increase to up to 90% with additional use of heat.
In future, hydrogen will play an important role for smaller production companies as well as for residential areas as the existing gas network can be used to transport hydrogen to households. In the Haurup windgas project, for example, up to 3 million kWh of green hydrogen from excess wind power are fed into the natural gas grid every year.
Another way of using green hydrogen in the natural gas network is through methanation and subsequent feeding into the gas network. In a project in Styria (Austria) an H-TEC Systems ME450 electrolyser produces up to 450 kg of green hydrogen per day. Through Power-to-X, green methane is produced that can be fed into the grid on a daily basis. As a result, this means that around 200 households can be supplied with space heating and hot water every day.