Study on hydrogen use and power-to-gas potentials in the Hamburg harbour

hydrogenstudy_graph1One focus of the e-harbours showcase in Hamburg is to examine how a surplus of wind energy occurring in the north of Germany could be used in a smart way. A concept that has been increasingly discussed over the last years is called power-to-gas: Producing hydrogen through electrolysis, and feed it into the gas grid. However, especially in harbour regions, there is also a direct demand for hydrogen – why not combine these two aspects? This approach is discussed in a recently published report by the e-harbours Hamburg team.

Download the full report here »

Summary of the report:

Harbours are enormous energy consumers. At the same time they provide an ideal environment for intelligent and sustainable energy solutions. The HAW Hamburg developed several ideas of intelligent and sustainable energy solutions, which fit to the characteristics of a harbour region. One of those ideas is the connection of electricity generation and hydrogen production using electrolysis. Especially chemical and petrochemical industries benefit from good infrastructure in harbour regions. Thus many of them can be found in harbour areas. For this reason it was anticipated that great harbour regions show a significant demand for hydrogen. To verify this hypothesis a study about Hamburg’s harbour industry and their hydrogen use was carried out. But what benefit does a local hydrogen demand create for a smart energy network? Several different scenarios are possible.

One possible scenario refers to companies with local electricity generation (e.g. with combined heat and power plants). The energy generation can exceed the energy demand. If a local hydrogen demand exists, the surplus energy could be used in an electrolyser. That way a company can reduce or cover its own hydrogen demand or sell the hydrogen to another company nearby.

Another scenario refers to companies with a local hydrogen demand without a local electricity generation. Typically those companies buy hydrogen from a supplier. Alternatively they produce hydrogen in a reformer or as a by-product in other processes. Yet the hydrogen production by electrolysis can be an option for those companies. If the hydrogen demand is flexible or a buffer storage is integrated, the company can for example participate in balancing power markets. A participation in balancing power markets can provide low costs for the electrolysis’ electricity demand and thus result in low hydrogen costs.

The main focus of the study was to outline the existing hydrogen supply and the potentials of hydrogen use in Hamburg’s harbour area. Relevant companies in the harbour area were identified and their hydrogen demands as well as their gas procurement costs were detected. Furthermore typical methods of hydrogen production were introduced as well as common fields of hydrogen use.

The survey identified companies in Hamburg’s harbour area, which have a significant hydrogen demand or production. It showed that at least 3 companies in the harbour area have a significant hydrogen demand which could be quantified with a total of about 12 Million Nm³ per year.

In addition to the quantities of hydrogen demand which were found out, the survey delivered a rough idea of hydrogen prices, which have to be achieved by an alternative hydrogen production using electrolysis. In a further step a rough approximation of achievable hydrogen prices was done. This appraisal showed that for the taken assumptions, only low prices for electric energy can lead to the favoured hydrogen prices.

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