Hydrogen technologies could become key to new, promising business models for energy suppliers. Confidence in positive development through power-to-gas has doubled over the past two years.
Currently, around 60 percent of the utilities expect high to very high margins in the medium and long term. This is a result of the study “Strategy development of energy suppliers” by the management consultancy Horváth & Partners.
The breakthrough has not yet been achieved, but Power2X could solve several problems. The term describes different technologies for storing or using excess electricity from renewable energies. This also includes hydrogen technology, which is based on the process of electrolysis, i.e. the conversion of electricity to hydrogen. Water is broken down into its components hydrogen and oxygen using electricity. In the next step, the power-to-gas variant converts the element to a synthetic gas that can be used for heating or for innovative drive technologies, for example on ships. Hydrogen technology can also be used as a storage solution.
This means that hydrogen technology could also play an important role in the energy transition. By 2025, around 47 percent of electricity in Germany will be generated from renewable energies, according to the forecast of the energy supply companies. This would exceed the federal government’s target of 40 to 45 percent by 2025. According to the study results, the utilities expect growth in the area of photovoltaics, for example. 80 percent see the energy transition as an opportunity for their operation. This strong expansion of generation capacities increases the volatility in power generation and thus the need for energy storage. One of these solutions could be hydrogen.
The study shows that utilities see power-to-gas as one of the top three flexibility options for the power supply system. Hardly any other flexibility option promises similarly high margins in the future. This assessment has changed significantly in the past two years for power-to-gas: Today, 60 percent of the utilities consider the technology to have high potential, two years ago it was 25 percentage points less. “However, the way to leverage this potential is often not yet clear. The energy suppliers are still looking for their strategy and are very heterogeneous in their future projects, ”says Matthias Deeg, head of the consulting area for the energy industry at Horváth & Partners.
Co-existence of the technologies
With regard to mobility solutions, it is not yet clear where the journey will take us. Companies not only rely on battery operation but also give fuel cells a chance. In the bus and truck sectors, more than 75 percent of those surveyed see greater potential in hybrids and fuel cells than in pure battery operation. “We are dealing with a co-existence of different technologies. The larger the vehicle and the longer the route, the more advantages hydrogen can offer, ”says Horváth expert Deeg. His forecast for the areas of mobility and logistics, but also for energy supply: “We will see that the storage of energy from excess green electricity in the energy source hydrogen is gaining in importance.
About the study: Since 2010, Horváth & Partners has been
using the study ” Strategy Development of Energy Suppliers ” (German Only) to examine current trends in relation to the future strategic direction of energy suppliers and service providers. 44 companies took part in the current survey, which represents around 55 percent of the German energy market based on the number of metering points.
Source: Horvath & Partners