The new oil – development of a global hydrogen trade

As a climate-friendly energy vector with unique versatility, hydrogen will play a completely new role in energy supply, industry and mobility in the future. For commercial consumers, gas is even considered to play a role similar to that of electricity. But providing the necessary quantities is a task for the century.

In order for hydrogen to unfold its sustainability potential, climate-friendly production is first necessary. “Grey” hydrogen does not meet this criterion, and “blue” hydrogen is not final in this respect either (an introduction to hydrogen colour theory can be found here). “Turkish” hydrogen is not available on a large scale in the foreseeable future; all three processes also have the geostrategic shortcoming of requiring large quantities of natural gas. “Red” hydrogen (produced by electrolysis from nuclear-generated electricity) is not socially accepted in Germany, so that only “green” hydrogen remains as a sustainable option.

However, the renewable electricity capacities needed for this are limited in Germany and the use of offshore wind power is too expensive for the time being. Consequently, much of the sustainable hydrogen consumed in Germany will have to be imported from countries that have large RE generation potentials and correspondingly cheap, clean electricity.
However, this dilemma also offers immense opportunities: new geopolitical partnerships are emerging, previously disadvantaged regions can be opened up and completely new markets and value chains can be generated. This is where IAV, together with consulting4drive (C4D), provides support in complex, strategic issues.

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In order to satisfy the industrialised countries’ hunger for energy, completely new logistics will be required in the future. Large quantities of hydrogen will have to be transported, stored and distributed over long distances and in various forms. The technical challenges involved are solvable: all the technology needed for this already exists, often on an industrial scale. As a Tech Solution Provider, IAV is intensively involved with many of the required processes and works directly on behalf of our clients to improve them. The actual task is therefore rather to skilfully combine the individual pieces of the puzzle with regard to their specific requirements and boundary conditions, e.g.:

– Which process can follow the dynamically fluctuating supply of renewable energies particularly well?
– Which form of transport is suitable for which target application?
– Which efficiencies and costs can be realised; for which applications are these economically viable from when onwards?
– Where do positive synergy effects arise, for example through waste heat utilisation?
– What sustainability criteria need to be met?

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«Ultimately, then, this is a matter of system integration - one of IAV's core competencies. Careful requirements management, process reliability, detailed technical knowledge and suitable tools are our guarantees for successful projects.»

Dr.-Ing. Ingmar Hartung — Team Manager Hydrogen Infrastructure & Electrolysis at IAV

Whether in cryogenic, liquid form by special ship or truck for use in aviation or long-distance transport, in gaseous form by pipeline for industry, bound in liquid organic hydrogen carriers as a strategic long-term reserve or in the form of ammonia or methanol as an important basic material, e.g. for e-fuels or fertiliser production: sustainable, imported hydrogen will decisively influence our lives in the future in a variety of forms.

Complex, large-scale plants will always have to be developed, planned, economically evaluated, functionally and operationally safeguarded, commissioned and finally integrated into digital systems and processes. IAV is ready to make its contribution to this.

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