To complete the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, an even greater expansion of energy sources such as solar power or wind power is needed. Still, these technologies have to further increase their performance, reliability and flexibility. In addition, clean, field-proven solutions for sector coupling are needed. Here, hydrogen can act as a central bridge between the volatile power from solar or wind and the still dominant hydrocarbon-based energy system: Hydrogen-based technologies, such as large-scale storage, electrolysers, fuel cells, or gas engines, are already important elements in the energy technology spectrum and enable, amongst others, the transport and seasonal storage of energy in the required capacity range.
Unlike today's predominant production routes via fossil fuels, "green hydrogen" is produced entirely without CO2 emissions through the electrolysis of water with renewable electricity, and can be used as a long term energy storage, to decarbonize various applications e.g. transportation, and industrial processes such as steel and cement production. It can even be combined with captured CO2 to produce carbon-neutral fuels or chemical feedstocks. Global decarbonization is not possible without green hydrogen, but terawatts of renewable energy will be needed to achieve it.
Misperceptions, current market failures, and fragmentation prevent clean hydrogen from reaching its full potential as the missing link in an integrated, sustainable, and clean energy system. Significant research and development efforts are needed to further improve the efficiency, cost, storability, and producibility of clean hydrogen.
In the hydrogen conversion value chain, cost-effective water electrolysis is the missing link. For example, the costs of proton/anion exchange membrane electrolysis (PEM/AEM) systems need to be reduced by scaling up and switching to sustainable materials with a low content of precious metals. On the other hand, high-temperature solid oxide electrolysis cells (SOECs) or direct photo-electrochemical conversion routes need to be developed towards commercial demonstration.
With regards to renewable electricity from solar power systems, performance and reliability are key for building and sustaining a reliable and affordable power sector. Therefore, novel degradation mechanisms of solar power components in interaction with new applications, uses, and weather conditions need to be understood and addressed, while the design, operation, and maintenance of solar power plants need to be fully digitized to further reduce the related levelized cost of electricity (LCOE).
- Experimental and simulation-based development of technologies, components and systems.
- Advanced prequalification, testing and validation
- Development focus TRL 3-7 ("from lab to demo")