Germany Pursuing Hydrogen Solution

Germany Pursuing Hydrogen Solution

The previous article established how much new power generation capacity would be needed in the United States to replace fossil fuels with hydrogen. See, The Hydrogen Dream 

It showed that, at a minimum, over 1,000,000 MW of new generating capacity will have to be built in the US, which would double the generating capacity in the US.

A German information organization, Clean Energy Wire (CLEW), whose motto is, Journalism for the energy transition, published an update on the need for hydrogen in Germany.

CLEW reported:

“Germany’s climate targets require huge amounts of renewable hydrogen.” 

It said:

“The production of ‘green hydrogen’ with renewable power using electrolysis has lately become a hot topic in German industry… Using renewable electricity to produce fossil fuel substitutes could solve some of the Energiewende’s toughest challenges.”

CLEW quoted Greenpeace Energy as saying the demand for electricity for producing hydrogen would be 1,089 TWh, which is twice Germany’s current consumption of 596 TWh.

Greenpeace Energy apparently expects renewables, wind and solar, to generate all the needed extra power, but, given the current resistance to wind by rank and file Germans, it would seem unlikely that the extra electricity will come from renewables.

Renewables are also needed to replace the fossil fuels currently used to generate electricity, so the approximately 100,000 additional wind turbines needed for producing hydrogen are in addition to those needed to replace fossil fuels for generating electricity.

As this graph from CLEW shows, 70% of electricity comes from fossil fuels and nuclear, so additional renewables are needed to replace them, in addition to those needed to produce hydrogen.

(Not included in this chart is the use of fossil fuels for industry and transportation.)

It’s becoming clear it will be impossible to achieve decarbonization of the world without hydrogen, yet the ability to produce enough hydrogen can only be dreamed about.

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2 Replies to “Germany Pursuing Hydrogen Solution”

  1. The two issues using H2 in large quantities as a fuel are:
    1. It is highly flammable and potentially explosive.
    2. Heavy metal containers are needed to contain it under pressure required to store reasonable volume.
    I understand research is underway to store it as a hydride or similarly encapsulated. I doubt such would ever enable large use rates. Any thoughts?

    • Thanks for your comment.
      H2 has some important deficiencies when used for transportation.
      As you point out, using it in a car requires a special container. Reinforced fiberglass rated 5,000 or 10,000 psi has been used for that purpose.
      Transporting H2 from where it’s produced can’t be done with existing copper pipe so must be liquified which results in a large loss pf energy. Electrolysis at a fueling station is possible but building such stations will be expensive because of the amount of power required.
      Yes, research is underway to use hydrides, but I don’t know how far that has progressed.
      The other item that’s important is that fuel cells, which is why hydrogen would be used, are still very expensive in comparison with an internal combustion engine.