Climate change, dependence on imports, and economic policy goals are recognized internationally as the driving forces behind changes in the energy supply system. Against this background, it is becoming more important to increase the use of renewables in the generation of electrical energy. The integration of renewables in electricity grids supplying the public is but one option; others currently being discussed include conversion into chemical energy carriers, which can then be stored to compensate for fluctuating power. In this way, the use of low-emission energy could also be tapped for other sectors of industry. Options for using hydrogen produced electrolytically in road vehicles and as a base product in the chemicals industry are currently being intensively investigated and analyzed.
Activities in this area at IEK-3 focus on evaluating relevant component technologies, particularly electrolysis, hydrogen transport, and large-scale hydrogen storage. The aims are to illustrate the potential of these technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to define technical requirements for these infrastructural elements as a starting point for future R&D measures. As such requirements depend on the specific operating conditions of the components, integrated supply concepts for electricity and hydrogen must be drawn up before the analyses can be performed. With respect to the target markets, namely the electricity sector, the traffic and transportation sector, and the chemicals industry, complex relationships emerge in terms of the economic viability of such supply concepts. These relationships are described and analyzed using market scenarios. These scenarios reveal that the power fluctuations caused by renewables will increase the importance of optimizing the operation of electrolyzers and storage systems in order to supply hydrogen and electricity at competitive costs. Simulations in this area, for example, will help to improve the technical design of electrolysis systems taking into account target values for lifetime, efficiency, and cost, as well as load change rates and overloadability.