Hydrogen from renewables in Austria - an energy carrier of the future?
Today about 520 billion Nm³ of hydrogen are produced worldwide mainly as feed stock for the chemical industry and for metallurgical industry. This amount has an energy content of about 5.700 PJ. Hydrogen can be produced in different processes using fossil or renewable energy. Hydrogen can be used as energy carrier in many different ways: hydrogen can be stored, transported and used for the production of electricity, heat and transportation services. International R&D activities are carried out to analyse hydrogen technologies for different applications: cost, potentials and market implementation strategies with the aim to describe the possible role of hydrogen in a future energy system. The motivation for these international activities is the vision of a global hydrogen economy, as hydrogen is regarded as one of the cleanest final energy carriers, if it is produced from renewable energy ("renewable hydrogen").
The aim of this study is to analyse under which conditions renewable hydrogen might be an energy carrier of tomorrow in Austria. The advantages and disadvantages of renewable hydrogen energy systems are compared to other energy systems through an assessment of technological, economical, environmental and social aspects. The focus is on the method of producing renewable hydrogen and where and how renewable hydrogen should be used. The following technologies to produce renewable hydrogen are considered: gasification of biomass, steam reforming from biogas made of manure and maize silage, electrolysis with electricity from hydro, wind and photovoltaic power. The energy systems with renewable hydrogen are assessed based on the seven principles of sustainable technology development defined for the Austrian Program on Technologies for Sustainable Development, to identify possible advantages of using renewable energy via the production of hydrogen for heat, electricity and transportation services.
In a medium- to long-term perspective the most interesting energy option for renewable hydrogen in Austria is to provide transportation services with vehicles, that use gaseous hydrogen produced from renewable electricity from hydro and wind power. In a future sustainable Austrian energy system the possible contribution from renewable hydrogen in the transportation sector might be significant. With the electrolysis "on-site" at the hydrogen filling station the existing infrastructure for electricity may be used. In a short- to medium-term perspective vehicles with a hydrogen combustion engine which might also be fuelled with gasoline in a bivalent mode, have favourable conditions. Fuel cell vehicles with hydrogen might become attractive only after a technological development combined with a significant cost reduction. From an overall economic point of view it is not possible to establish a renewable hydrogen economy in Austria in a short-term perspective, because the direct use of renewable energy for energy services is economically more feasible. But to be able to benefit from the medium- and long-term opportunities, further national R&D efforts are necessary to develop and demonstrate technologies for renewable hydrogen. These activities should be linked to existing and planned international networks, e.g. the European Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Platform (HFP) and the IEA Hydrogen Implementing Agreement (HIA) and the International Partnership on Hydrogen Economy (IPHE). The following possible demonstration projects are recommended to demonstrate an efficient and flexible energy system based on hydrogen from renewable energy: renewable hydrogen from electrolysis with wind electricity, renewable hydrogen use in a refinery and demonstration of vehicles fuelled with renewable hydrogen.
Joanneum Research Forschungsgesellschaft mbH
Institut für Wasser, Energie und Nachhaltigkeit
Tel.: +43 (0) 316 876-1313
Fax: +43 (0) 316 876-1320
Technische Universität Wien, Institut für Elektrische Anlagen und Energiewirtschaft (Werkvertragspartner)