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Hydrogen: the future for energy systems?

From wind to hydrogen: storing renewable energy

Wind power is now a huge contributor to Europe’s energy system meeting about 14% of electricity demand and this proportion is due to rise considerably in the future as more and more wind energy becomes available as part of the sustainable energy transition. Due to the wind’s fluctuating nature, it has become increasingly crucial to develop technologies that enable excess wind energy to be stored for later use when plenty of wind is blowing.

Co-funded by the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, HyBalance is one of the largest facilities in Europe that is demonstrating on a large scale how electricity that is created by wind power can be converted into hydrogen. This hydrogen is then stored and used as part of Europe’s energy systems, for industries, in the transport sector.

Hydrogen is becoming a key technology in moving forward with the energy transition in the transport sector especially. As the sustainable transport market grows, it will be required in large quantities to fuel new hydrogen cars, trucks, forklift trucks, buses and maritime vehicles. “Our cutting-edge hydrogen-creation technology has the power to help balance Europe’s electricity grids with high levels of renewables. Hydrogen can be used to power both industrial processes and in transport like in hydrogen vehicles. Moreover, it is directly in-line with the EU’s climate and energy goals,” said HyBalance’s communications manager Marie Louise Arnfast.

Fuelling 1,000 hydrogen vehicles for a year

Based in the Northern Danish town of Hobro, the facility can produce up to 500 kg of hydrogen per day using wind powered-electricity – that is enough to fuel a fleet of more than 1,000 hydrogen powered vehicles for one year. The technology can be deployed when the wind is abundant – or at night when electricity demand is low – enabling the storage of cheap, renewable electricity from wind turbines.

In addition to the climate benefits of making hydrogen from fossil-fuel free electricity, hydrogen vehicles do not have internal combustion engines, meaning they emit hardly any greenhouse gases, and do not produce small-particle pollution. Moreover, a hydrogen powered vehicle can be refueled quickly and can travel for relatively long distances before needing more fuel.

“We are very excited to be nominated as a finalist for the EUSEW 2019 award. It is a great honour to be regarded as a project which shows an original and innovative way to the sustainable energy transition – a transition which is one of the big challenges of our time,” said Arnfast.