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Easy to transport, storable for a long time and the possibility to produce and use it in a climate-neutral way: These are just some of the amazing characteristics of hydrogen. It is also the most common element in the universe, an extremely good heat conductor and has a high mass-related energy density.

All these properties could make hydrogen (chemical formula: H2) a central energy carrier for the energy transition. So far, however, it is still a niche product and mainly a basic and process material in the chemical and petrochemical industries.

In our white paper "Hydrogen – Energy source of a climate-neutral economy?", we have examined how this could change and what challenges need to be overcome in order to do so.

One of the central difficulties for a broader use of CO2-free hydrogen is its economic competitiveness compared to other energy carriers. Up to now, H2 has been produced mainly from fossil natural gas, which causes greenhouse gas emissions. However, the production of H2 is only climate-neutral if these emissions are captured and stored (blue hydrogen) or if H2 is produced with the help of renewable electricity (green hydrogen). But that is many times more expensive.

To improve the economic viability of green hydrogen, our experts recommend, among other things:

  • Adjustment of the regulatory framework: Climate-neutral hydrogen should be classified as intermediate storage instead of as a final consumer. This would be associated with a major financial relief, as it would eliminate a large part of the ancillary electricity costs.
  • Technical further development of electrolysers - i.e. the production plants with the help of which green hydrogen is produced. Economies of scale in the production of the plants reduce the necessary investment costs for plant operators.
  • Investment in research and development to optimise the production processes of the plants and increase the efficiency of electrolysis and methanation - i.e. the processes needed to produce green hydrogen and natural gas.
  • Further development of the natural gas grid to be able to transport larger quantities of hydrogen.

These measures could ensure that climate-neutral hydrogen becomes economically competitive and helps to decarbonise economic sectors such as the logistics industry, the heating market and the mobility sector in the future.