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Hydrogen and its source of energy | TÜV Rheinland

Hydrogen and its source of energy

Since in nature hydrogen does practically not exist in free form, it is generated as a secondary energy carrier from primary energy. Therefore, a hydrogen economy can only be as sustainable as its primary energy source. And since today around 95 % of the world's hydrogen production still comes from fossil energy sources such as coal, crude oil or natural gas, the CO2 problem is currently merely being shifted. The largest hydrogen producer is the chemical industry, which produces hydrogen as a by-product or co-product.

Green hydrogen from renewable energies.

Fossil fuels are finite resources. For this reason, we must look for alternatives in the medium and long term – not least in order to reach our ambitious climate goals.

This is where the properties of green hydrogen have a positive effect. Since it is produced from renewable energies, it can directly drive out hydrogen produced from fossil fuels and also replace fossil fuels as input materials in several processes. Thus, sustainable concepts prioritize hydrogen production from renewable energies, leading to an emission-free system.

Power-to-Gas – an energy concept of the future.

The energy concept that uses water electrolysis and electrical power to produce hydrogen is called "power-to-gas". In this context, "power" refers to the electrical power surplus, and "gas", hydrogen, refers to the energy into which the electricity is converted.

The use of power-to-gas technology is only environmentally sound if the surplus electricity used comes from renewable energies. Since in the medium term, most of it is expected to come from surplus wind energy, this type of hydrogen is also called "wind hydrogen”. In addition, other energy sources such as solar power from photovoltaic systems or nuclear energy will play a role in hydrogen production.

Hydrogen from wind power.

Wind energy and hydrogen are key technologies for a renewable energy system. Modern wind turbines have been continuously generating electricity for a long time. Today, wind energy is indispensable as a cost-effective and widely available renewable source of electricity.

To generate hydrogen from wind power, electrolysis is used to produce green hydrogen from wind energy. It is stored and converted back into electrical energy as needed. This ensures a reliable supply of energy even when there is no wind.

Hydrogen from solar power.

If there is one key technology for hydrogen production that has undergone an enormous transformation, it is photovoltaics. Efficiency improvements, lower prices for photovoltaics systems, and technologies tailored to different applications are contributing to its popularity. Photovoltaic systems are used together with electrolyzers to produce hydrogen.

In addition, the photocatalytic splitting of water, a technology where solar photons split water directly into hydrogen and oxygen in the presence of a catalyst, has also been making great advances.

Hydrogen from nuclear power.

Nuclear facilities, also known as nuclear power plants, supply both the heat and electricity necessary to produce hydrogen. Hydrogen from nuclear power continues to play a role in the hydrogen strategies of many countries.

Many energy sources for the same hydrogen.

Even if hydrogen is produced from different energy sources, its chemical composition is always the same. The effect on the environment, however, is not.

Because of the way it is produced, green hydrogen is a climate-friendly solution. It provides the option to produce hydrogen from solar and wind energy and to store it as a versatile energy carrier. In addition, it can be transported and converted to energy or used for reconversion into electricity as needed. Especially in geographic regions with a lot of wind, water and sun, it can be produced cost-effectively and be transported anywhere to meet future energy needs worldwide.

However, in order to make the technology economically viable and practical, hydrogen will still be produced from nuclear energy and, to a certain extent, from fossil fuels, depending on the strategy. Fossil energy sources can produce blue hydrogen, which is also considered climate-neutral, because with this method, CO2 is captured and permanently stored and thus does not enter the atmosphere.

Our portfolio for hydrogen and its sources of energy.

Our goal is simple: We want to support you with comprehensive testing and inspection services on your path to using efficient and cost-effective hydrogen technologies. You benefit from customized solutions that we tailored to the technical and safety-relevant requirements of hydrogen technologies.

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