Hannover Messe Digital Days The future and hydrogen

Editor: Steffen Donath

Leading experts from Fraunhofer outlined the current state and future developments regarding hydrogen in an expert talk during the Hannover Messe Digital Days.

Hydrogen can play a key role in combating climate change.
Hydrogen can play a key role in combating climate change.
(Source: Jong Marshes (Unsplash))

Hydrogen is hailed as the way to climate neutrality. But is this even achievable in the forseeable future? What is the current status and where could it be utilised? Two experts from Fraunhofer provided an overview: Christoph Hebling (Fraunhofer ISE) outlined the different paths of integration of hydrogen-based systems into different sectors. According to current calculations, the scientists at Fraunhofer sketched two scenarios, one with a minor reliance on hydrogen and another with an overwhelming percentage of hydrogen-based systems. The amount of hydrogen needed for the first scenario is calculated to be around 800 TWh. The second scenario would require up to 2250 TWh on the other hand. By 2030, Hebling estimated that hydrogen could be used as a basis for synthetic fuels. However, there are some challenges along the way.

Storage will be a major factor when rolling out technologies on a large scale. Improvements to infrastructure are a necessity in this area. As an example, if the transport sector should rely on this technology, hydrogen-stations must be available across countries to ensure a steady supply.

Government must pave way for hydrogen

To further ensure the collective goal of a climate-neutral energy source is met, international standards are an absolute necessity. The government must also create the necessary environment for safe investments into hydrogen-based systems. Sustainability and economic interests are always difficult to combine in a highly competitive environment. In order to promote a sustainable future, the government needs to construct clear and beneficial frameworks for the utilisation of hydrogen on a large scale.

Mario Ragwitz (Fraunhofer IEG) highlighted certain developments in Germany as a prime example of a country embracing hydrogen through a roadmap. The challenge, of course, is the step-by-step reduction and reliance on fossil fuels. Germany’s goal is to become an example case for adopting hydrogen. This should be accomplished by already existing and soon-to-be-built research centres devoted to this technology. Since hydrogen can be effectively transformed and utilised for by different industries via catalyst processes, the potential is immense. This includes the steel, chemistry and even transport sector. But even on an international scale, Ragwitz came to the conclusion that “the world is ready for hydrogen”.

The EU and hydrogen

Hydrogen will be a key factor in almost any industrial sector. While there is still a lot of debate around how mobility can become green in the near future, pursuing hydrogen can yield long term benefits. For further information on the EU’s hydrogen strategy, you can visit the official questions-and-answers page: Questions and answers: A Hydrogen Strategy for a climate neutral Europe. Or you can take a look at the official document outlining the strategy in greater detail: A hydrogen strategy for a climate-neutral Europe.