University of Mannheim: That is why hydrogen is already economical as an energy source today

In their study, which was published in the journal Nature Communications , the two authors examine the profitability of reversible power-to-gas systems using the example of the German and Texas markets in the USA. The advantage of such systems is that they work in two directions: in times of sufficient and cheap supply of wind and solar energy, they can convert electricity into hydrogen. In times of power shortages, on the other hand, they convert hydrogen into electricity – in reverse gear, as it were.

“Green hydrogen is often still considered expensive and therefore unprofitable. However, reversible systems have the potential to play a key role in ensuring clean energy supply in Germany,” notes co-author Glenk.

At present, the use of hydrogen is indeed still associated with high costs because the systems used usually only run in one of the two directions. Gas turbines that generate electricity from hydrogen, for example, would achieve relatively low utilization. They would only connect to the grid at times when electricity production from wind and solar energy is particularly low, for example on windless, gray winter days. The rest of the time, the systems remain unused in standby mode.

Reversible power-to-gas systems, on the other hand, make it possible on the one hand to produce the hydrogen required for industrial purposes in sufficient quantities and on the other hand to supply the missing amount of electricity when the basic supply from wind and solar energy is not sufficient. Such systems also increase independence from energy imports from abroad.

When it comes to the production of such systems, European companies are currently in the lead. According to the authors of the study, the market still has a lot of development potential. But the more frequently the systems are installed, the more their production costs fall – and the more likely it is that hydrogen will become the energy carrier of the future.

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