Summary of the report “Potential of hydrogen in energy systems” 

Report: “Electrolysis could be important in the future energy system”

Electrolysis technology could be crucial in a future energy system, where hydrogen will play a vital role. This is the conclusion in a new report.

Denmark is a pioneer country when it comes to using renewable energy from especially wind turbines, which today cover a large part of the Danish electricity use. There is a general agreement that the share of renewable energy will rise in the future energy system. However, renewable wind power is a fluctuating source of energy. During some periods, the wind turbines actually produce more power than required and we need to develop solutions to “store” this excess of energy from renewable sources.

Scientists from Aalborg University and project developers from NEAS Energy have in collaboration with Air Liquide Denmark, EMD and Hydrogen Valley completed the report “Potential of hydrogen in energy systems”. In the report, they have analysed the role of electrolysis in a current Danish energy system as well as a future Danish energy system based on renewable energy sources. The aim is to clarify the role that electrolysis could play in the future and the benefits for the Danish Energy management. The hydrogen produced from electrolysis can be used in both industry and clean transport sectors.

The report concludes that, anticipating the increasing penetration of wind turbines in the electricity mix, electrolysis could be one of the key enablers to relevant power grid balancing services.

The potential of electrolysis

The report is a result of the first work package in the “Power2Hydrogen” project.

The preparation of the report has, among other things, consisted of in looking into and analysing various Danish and international energy scenarios including: The Danish Energy Agency’s scenario, Energikoncept 2030, Roadmap 2050 and eHighWay2050, in order to evaluate hydrogen’s role from different scientific and political perspectives.

Aalborg University, NEAS Energy, EMD and Hydrogen Valley have on the basis of the analysis of the energy scenarios developed a model, which is based on a Danish 2013 energy system and a Danish 2035 renewable energy system.

Many parameters are factored in the model, such as the electricity prices, the flexibility and the reactivity of the electrolysis unit to offset in real time the power grid unbalances.

Based on projections of 2035, the report highlights how electrolysis will be able to bridge the electricity network and green transport fuel supply. At the convergence of much higher production of energy from wind turbines and massive deployment of fuel-cell electric vehicles, electrolysis can provide both energy storage solutions and energy conversion in renewable fuel to energize the hydrogen vehicles. The production of synthetic biogas or direct injection of hydrogen in the gas network is another promising pathway to increase the share of renewable in the natural gas grid.

Hydrogen has the unique quality that it can be combined with and used in the different energy sectors: electricity, heat, gas and transport. Large scale storage of hydrogen is also possible.

Lotte Holmberg Rasmussen, R&D Project Manager from NEAS Energy says: ”This study has analysed a range of different topics related to the use of hydrogen in the future energy system. Adding more wind and other renewable energy sources will make hydrogen more important as a means of storing electricity and balancing the electricity system.”

Aalborg University and NEAS Energy have in collaboration with Air Liquide Denmark, EMD and Hydrogen Valley completed the report, which finalizes the first phase of the international project collaboration.

This study (Power2Hydrogen) is supported by the Danish ForskEL program, which is administrated by, responsible for operating the Danish electricity and gas transmission grids. ForskEL has granted approximately DKK 11 million for the project Power2Hydrogen.

HyBalance, an electrolysis facility will be built in Hobro

Following those conclusions, the construction of a large scale PEM electrolyser is starting as part of the HyBalance project. Led by Air Liquide, this project is supported both by the European funding authority FCHJU (Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking) and the Danish fund ForskEL.

By the end of 2017, one of Europe’s most advanced PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) hydrogen facilities will be built in Hobro in northern Denmark. Denmark has been selected for this project due to its very ambitious energy strategy, which was formed in 2012 by the legislative majority in the national parliament. The energy agreement aims at making Denmark independent of fossil fuels by 2050. Furthermore, there are salt caverns in Northern Jutland, close to Hobro, which in the future can be used to store hydrogen on a larger scale.

PEM electrolysis is characterised by being effective, compact and flexible. The start-up is short, and the technology can handle frequent start/stops, which makes it very suitable for balancing fluctuating energy sources.

On the basis of the experiences and results created in the Power2Hydrogen project, the HyBalance project will show how we can store renewable energy in the form of hydrogen, and then use it in the transport sector. The project will validate dynamic PEM electrolysis and innovatory processes for the deliverance of hydrogen. This will be demonstrated in a real industrial environment by applying the latest high pressure hydrogen production and delivery equipment.

Read the full report here: Power2Hydrogen – WP1 report – Potential of hydrogen in energy systems and read more about the HyBalance project here.