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Power-to-X for Applications

Hydrogen, far more than a hype

March 2021
18
Author: MichaelHerrmann
Company: VDMA - Power-to-X for Applications


Even if German Research Minister Anja Karliczek and Economics Minister Peter Altmaier talk about the "petroleum of tomorrow": Hydrogen, produced by electrolysis with electricity and water, is no miracle cure. But it is a great source of hope. Without its increased use, it will not be possible to reduce global CO2 emissions to the level needed for climate protection and ambitious political goals. Without hydrogen and the chemical energy carriers based on it, global, successful climate protection is not possible.
The advantages of hydrogen are obvious. Power-to-X technologies, which convert electricity into gas or liquid fuels, enable the large-scale use of renewable energies in the areas of heat, mobility and industry. For example, hydrogen can help avoid CO2 emissions in steel production, and synthetic fuels produced from hydrogen can help run cars, trucks, ships and aircraft with significantly lower CO2 emissions or even CO2-neutral without a change in propulsion technology.
Although chemical fuels are currently still significantly more expensive than their fossil fuel competitors, mainly because a lot of energy is needed to produce green hydrogen, they offer enormous opportunities for European engineering. Medium-sized companies also have very good opportunities to make their mark internationally as suppliers and exporters, especially in the necessary process technology. They have long been developing the necessary heat storage systems, storage technologies for gas, LNG and oil, systems for hydrogen and methanol, and electrolysis and methanation systems.
Governments in many countries, such as China, Japan and Korea, but also in France and Germany, have set the course for future hydrogen use or are currently doing so. There is now also an ambitious hydrogen strategy at EU level. Hydrogen can also be of great importance for emerging countries that are just setting up their energy supply systems. In the medium term, hydrogen will probably also become immensely important for countries in the Middle East that are currently still exporting crude oil, because demand for oil will fall. The World Energy Council has issued a forecast of where the hydrogen of the future could come from: Norway, Saudi Arabia, Chile and Australia. In other words, from regions where wind or sun, and thus potentially renewable energy, is abundant. Countries like Germany, however, will continue to import energy in the future, as they will continue to consume more energy than they can generate themselves from renewable sources in the long term.
Innovative technologies based on hydrogen offer enormous potential to defossilize industrial sectors. The VDMA brings together under its umbrella the necessary technologies and research networks to advance hydrogen and the hydrogen economy, from energy generation to process and production technology to applications.
"We must now quickly establish a functioning and competitive European hydrogen economy," says Peter Müller-Baum, managing director of the Power-to-X for Applications WG at VDMA. He wants to help hydrogen achieve a breakthrough in as many industrial sectors as possible and thus achieve ecological, economic and social success. After all, green hydrogen not only has the potential to enormously reduce CO2 emissions and decisively advance climate protection. The hydrogen economy can also create a large number of new jobs in Europe.

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