Optimal supply chains and power sector benefits of green hydrogen
Green hydrogen can help to decarbonize parts of the transportation sector, but its power sector interactions are not well understood so far. It may contribute to integrating variable renewable energy sources if production is sufficiently flexible in time. Using an open-source co-optimization model of the power sector and four options for supplying hydrogen at German filling stations, we find a trade-off between energy efficiency and temporal flexibility. For lower shares of renewables and hydrogen, more energy-efficient and less flexible small-scale on-site electrolysis is optimal. For higher shares of renewables and/or hydrogen, more flexible but less energy-efficient large-scale hydrogen supply chains gain importance, as they allow to temporally disentangle hydrogen production from demand via storage. Liquid hydrogen emerges as particularly beneficial, followed by liquid organic hydrogen carriers and gaseous hydrogen. Large-scale hydrogen supply chains can deliver substantial power sector benefits, mainly through reduced renewable curtailment. Energy modelers and system planners should consider the distinct flexibility characteristics of hydrogen supply chains in more detail when assessing the role of green hydrogen in future energy transition scenarios. We also propose two alternative cost and emission metrics which could be useful in future analyses.
Published in: Scientific Reports, Article 14191 (2021)