What will be the future role of hydrogen in our society?
Hydrogen is already in widespread use as a fundamental molecule in the chemical industry, and as a feedstock in the steel and refining industries. However, in future it is likely to also play a much larger role as part of a sustainable “hydrogen economy”, providing critical support to the achievement of global defossilization and decarbonization targets. Hydrogen can be used as an energy carrier for power grid services such as load regulation via electrolyzers, fuel cells and gas turbines. It is also a sector coupling enabler, allowing connections to be made between the power, gas and heat grids. Not least, it also offers significant potential for zero CO2 propulsion in the transport and mobility sectors with fast startup and refueling.
Sustainable ‘green’ hydrogen can be produced by the electrolysis of water with electricity from renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power. The gasification of biomass and the steam reforming of biogas also represent technically mature methods for producing hydrogen. The production and storage of hydrogen in temporary or seasonal storages allows the decoupling of electricity demand and volatile renewable electricity feed into the electrical grid. Excess hydrogen can be liquefied and exported/imported for use elsewhere.
From production to end users: large-scale hydrogen supply chain
RENEWABLE ENERGY – Sustainable energy supply from renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydroelectric energy.
ELECTRIC GRID – Electric power distribution from producer to consumer through the electric grid.
BACKUP POWER PLANT – Medium and long-term grid balancing via reconversion of hydrogen.
ELECTROLYSIS PLANT – Storage of surplus electrical energy as hydrogen via electrolysis of water.
H2 STORAGE – Temporary storage of compressed hydrogen in gas bundles for further use.
PIPELINE – Distribution of hydrogen over long distances via pipelines to connect production and storage sites.
IMPORT/EXPORT – Cross-border trade of hydrogen to set up an international hydrogen economy.
LH2 SHIP – Liquefaction of hydrogen in areas and countries with high volume production for onward shipment.
H2 CAVERN STORAGE – Seasonal storage of hydrogen in salt caverns connected to pipeline network.
LOGISTICS – Delivery trucks allow for local distribution of hydrogen as liquid or compressed gas.
PIPELINE – Pipelines allow for high volume distribution to industry and bulk purchasers.
REFUELING STATION H2 – Dispensing hydrogen to passenger cars, commerical vehicles and further hydrogen consumers.
ELECTRICITY/HEAT – Power and heat supply of residential and industrial areas through fuel cells.
INDUSTRY – Using hydrogen as a feedstock in chemical industry and as reducing agent in steel industry.
MOBILITY – Hydrogen-powered vehicles enable zero-emission zero-carbon mobility.
Holistic hydrogen solutions – from ideation to development up to implementation
As a storage for excess renewable electricity, hydrogen opens interesting options for off-grid applications. Countless capabilities are imaginary like the whole supply of an island with green hydrogen or smaller versions like a power supply container at major events. Hydrogen and fuel cells can also be used as backup systems for emergency services in case of a power blackout especially in communication sector or as emergency disaster relief in distressed areas.
Future vision example: energy self-sufficient farming
One possible use case is the sustainable energy supply of farmers who have a high demand of fuel for the agricultural machines and power for the breed of farm animals. Since they usually have enough land to generate green energy from wind, solar power and biogas, it can be economically advantageous for them to become independent on energy supply.
From production to end users: autonomous micro-scale hydrogen supply chain
RENEWABLE ENERGY – Wind turbines in fields and photovoltaics on roofs provide sustainable energy.
ELECTROLYSIS PLANT – Producing green hydrogen from renewable energy via on-site electrolysis of water.
LOGISTICS – Delivery trucks allow for local trade of excess hydrogen as liquid or compressed gas.
H2 STORAGE – Produced hydrogen can be stored in facilities such as hydrogen pressure tanks.
COMBINED HEAT & POWER – Fuel cell systems convert the hydrogen to electricity and heat to supply buildings.
REFUELING STATION H2 – Agricultural machinery and passenger vehicles can be refilled via on-site hydrogen filling stations.
ELECTRICITY/HEAT – Power and heat supply of farmhouses, barns and stables through fuel cells.
MOBILITY – Hydrogen-powered agricultural machinery such as tractors and combine harvesters.
Tailored hydrogen propulsion solutions
Hydrogen-based propulsion systems offer potential for zero CO2 mobility with fast startup and refueling as well as relatively compact and cost-effective energy storage compared with battery electric systems.
Benefitting from these basic advantages of hydrogen fueling, hybrid propulsion systems powered by a fuel cell and a battery are an attractive alternative to conventional combustion engines in many areas. Further positive characteristics include quiet operation and low maintenance costs on account of having fewer moving parts.
Meeting existing needs for zero local emissions, fuel cell propulsion systems are already available in several materials handling applications, such as forklifts, as well as in urban buses. In the course of planned developments in CO2 targets, significant market shares are expected for heavy duty commercial vehicles by 2030, especially for long-haul applications. In passenger cars the leading markets of Japan and South Korea already show rising sales shares, and stronger market penetrations in the major markets of the EU, USA and China are expected from the end of the 2020s.
Potential also exists in rail vehicle applications as a zero local emissions alternative to the complete electrification of track networks. Future demand for fuel cell power systems is likely in the area of construction, as an attractive solution to requirements for zero emissions equipment, driven by local air quality concerns. Further applications are to be expected in a variety of other areas too, for example mining, inshore marine and port operations.
Depending on the application, use case and cost boundary conditions, hydrogen-fueled combustion engines are likely to represent a further attractive alternative for zero CO2 propulsion in future. H2 ICEs offer a number of potential advantages, including high durability and ease of integration due to carry-over of existing components, and are of particular interest for commercial vehicles and off-highway equipment.
FEV offers benchmark services and detailed total cost of ownership analyses to find the optimal powertrain setup for the particular use case.
For FEV’s fuel cell engineering solutions from concept to SOP visit https://fuelcell.fev.com.
Addressing key strategic questions around the hydrogen economy
As a management consultancy with the strong technology background of the FEV Group, FEV Consulting offers a wide range of services to help different organizations explore what the hydrogen economy means for their business and how they can make the most of the opportunities it presents. We advise all kinds of organisations, from global energy companies to component suppliers and vehicle and equipment OEMs, and help them to answer the key questions that they face when developing business in the area of hydrogen propulsion and infrastructure.
What are the drivers and barriers to adoption of hydrogen as a transport fuel?
How widespread will different ZEV transport propulsion technologies be in future?
Which advantages and disadvantages do they have, and which critical factors will drive market success?
How can my organization generate new business in the future “hydrogen economy”?
System / component Suppliers
Which technologies are required to make commercially successful fuel cell systems or H2 engines?
How can take advantage of growth in hydrogen propulsion systems to create new business?
What are my competitors doing in this area?
What are the performance requirements for my hydrogen propulsion system products?
How much should they cost?
Vehicle / Equipment OEMs
Which of my product applications are best suited to a future hydrogen propulsion system?
What should be their key specifications to suit market needs?
How can I develop a portfolio of fuel cell sstems or H2 engines to suit a wide range of specifications with minimum complexity and cost?
Which suppliers can provide the components needed, and how capable are they?
Our hydrogen fuel cell, hydrogen ICE and infrastructure offerings range from detailed market, technology and cost analyses to business impact and opportunity assessment, as well as strategy development.
- Regulations, incentives & user needs
- Market forecast scenarios
- Market attractiveness & maturity of powertrain types, “ZEV Index”
- Market players’ offerings & strategies
- Fuel cell & hydrogen ICE powertrains
- Energy infrastructure
- Technology roadmapping
- System & component analysis
Market & product strategy
- Market entry strategy development
- Product portfolio planning
- Product requirements setting
- Complexity management and modularity
- New business opportunities identification & evaluation
- Capability analysis, fit to market needs
- Sourcing strategies, supply chain analysis, supplier selection
- Total cost of ownership (TCO)
- Should cost analysis
- Cost benchmarking
- Product cost-down
- Value creation analysis
- Investment cost evaluation
- Development budget requirements
- Product development process planning
Interested? Please contact us!
Dr.-Ing. Marius Walters
Global Product Line Manager Fuel Cell
FEV Europe GmbH
FEV Consulting GmbH
Dr.-Ing. Lukas Virnich
Product Manager Medium and Heavy Duty Engines
FEV Europe GmbH