German Professor Shows That The Road To Green Hydrogen Is Long, Expensive

The long road to green hydrogen

An article on NDR German public broadcasting clearly conveys the dimensions of hydrogen. It reports on a planned factory for green hydrogen in Neumünster.

A hydrogen factory with an output of 50 megawatts corresponds to the output of ten wind turbines, which means that the output of ten wind turbines can be stored. A hydrogen factory of this size could produce 3,000 tons of green hydrogen with an energy content of 100 gigawatt hours, says Prof. Oliver Opel from the West Coast University of Applied Sciences (FHW) in Heide. If the green hydrogen were burned, it could be used to heat 5,000 single-family homes per year. And the waste heat could be used to heat a further 2,500 houses, according to Opel. If electricity is made from the green hydrogen again and heat pumps are used, 7,500 single-family homes could be heated, as well as another 7,500 homes with the waste heat.”

To put this into perspective: Schleswig-Holstein has around 650,000 single-family homes, 80,000 two-family homes and 95,000 multi-family homes.  It is in any case no surprise that high German electricity prices are an obstacle.

Prof. Oliver Opel heads the Institute for the Transformation of the Energy System, ITE, at the West Coast University of Applied Sciences in Heide. He says that the construction and operation of electrolysis plants are still too expensive. One crucial aspect is the high price of electricity. Opel explains: ‘In other European countries, the electricity price is much better. One option could be a division according to geographically different electricity price zones, as already exists in other countries.’

Opel also points to another problem: ‘The purchase prices for electrolysis systems have continued to rise, as they are nowhere near mass production.'”

The question of what the hydrogen and the electricity generated in this way will ultimately cost remains unanswered in the article. In any case, the country’s plans are ambitious. It would be a factor of 30 of the first project.

Schleswig-Holstein wants to achieve an electrolysis capacity of 1.5 gigawatts (1,500 megawatts) by 2030, according to the state government’s updated hydrogen strategy. The federal government has also set itself a target. By 2030, the government wants to achieve an electrolysis capacity of 10 gigawatts (10,000 megawatts) to cover the demand of 95 to 130 terawatt hours of electricity per year.

And according to the energy expert at the West Coast University of Applied Sciences, Oliver Opel, this is a real challenge, precisely because of the current poor framework conditions.”

So the road is not only long, but also expensive.





8 responses to “German Professor Shows That The Road To Green Hydrogen Is Long, Expensive”

  1. Boris Lyapunov

    How can a 10 GW electrolysis generate 95 to 130 TWh per year ? 10 GW 100% of the time generates (well, actually, consumes) 10*24*365 = 87600 GWh, or 87.6 TWh, not accounting for any losses. This is below the lower limit of the given range. Also, “A hydrogen factory with an output of 50 megawatts corresponds to the output of ten wind turbines, which means that the output of ten wind turbines can be stored”. Are we talking about wind turbines with 100% load factor (10 x 5 MW) ? This is not realistic. With a load factor of 25%, it looks rather like 40 5-MW turbines.

  2. Windsong
    1. John Hultquist

      I think these sorts of folks are delusional. The head guy wrote:
      “We are deeply proud of the work the team has done to create the first commercially viable hydrogen aviation ecosystem,” Cousin’s letter concluded.

      It appears to me that it was not “commercially viable”, rather it was about as viable as the quests of alchemists to transmute lead into gold.

  3. Druid144

    “‘In other European countries, the electricity price is much better.”
    Those are countries with nuclear or fossil fuel generation. These are despatchable so there is no need for storage. The only possible case for hydrogen is to absorb excess power when wind and solar are over producing.
    It would indeed be madness to convert reliable electricity to hydrogen, then back to electricity, with about half the power wasted in the process.

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  6. soundos

    thanks for all info

  7. sch

    Electrolysis as a source of H2 runs up against the fact that it takes 48-55 kw-hrs of electricity to generate 1 kg of H2. Given efficiency losses 55+ seems most
    likely. And that does not account for the cost of the water which must be at least tap water clean and have low electrolyte content.

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