The power station is at one end of the cable and the socket is at the other. Of course, the energy world was not that simple from its very first beginnings, and since then it has turned into a highly complex structure.
But the requirements of ambitious climate protection require more: the coupling of still largely separate sectors such as energy supply, transport, and industrial production. “System integration” is the name of a new strategy presented by the EU Commission this week, which sees the future of the hydrogen economy as playing an outstanding role. RWE is already involved in many projects here in order to advance this topic.
The Brussels authorities point out that the restructuring in favor of the climate and the environment that society and politicians want has to fulfill many goals: Systems that are still separate today must be coupled, the costs should not get out of hand, the economy – especially after the Corona Crisis – should regain momentum and European companies should also be able to prove themselves globally in competition. A key element of the Brussels strategy for sector coupling is to improve the efficiency of the energy used, the use of previously unused resources such as waste heat and waste and the consequent electrification of areas in which fossil fuels have mainly been used up to now, such as in transport and the building sector. Where renewable electricity could not replace CO2-intensive energy sources or only at very high costs, biogas, and biofuels, but above all hydrogen, should move to the front row. The authority has shown how this can be achieved in a supplementary strategy paper especially for hydrogen (H2).
The first EU hydrogen strategy turns to “green”
The EU Commission’s hydrogen schedule envisages several stages: by 2024, electrolyzers for the production of hydrogen from renewable electricity with a total capacity of at least six gigawatts should be installed in the EU to generate one million tons of the gas, while existing one’s Production plants for the capture of CO2 are to be converted. By the end of this decade, ten million tons of “green” hydrogen are to be produced, which – thanks to economies of scale in terms of price being increasingly competitive – should support climate-friendly technologies in the production of steel and fertilizer, for example. By the middle of the century, Europe should have mature water management that can rely on cross-border pipelines, storage, and liquid markets.
Like the German government in its German hydrogen strategy, which was already presented in June, the EU Commission also wants to primarily promote hydrogen that is generated using renewable electricity. Brussels speaks of “clean” hydrogen, which is called “green” in Berlin’s color theory. In order to enable a rapid market ramp-up, the EU authority also sees the need to support hydrogen, at least during a transition period, the production of which, thanks to carbon capture (CCS), produces significantly less greenhouse gases than a purely fossil-based generation. However, building up and expanding capacities for the generation, transport, storage and sale of hydrogen make enormous investments necessary.
RWE and its partners welcomed the Brussels strategy in the GET H2 Nucleus hydrogen project (bp, Evonik, Nowega, OGE). This is only logical: after all, RWE is already involved in projects such as the construction of a 100 MW electrolyzer in Lingen to support a rapid market launch of hydrogen.