Hydrogen is an energy carrier, a fuel and a raw material. If produced from renewables, it can reduce GHG emissions, strengthen energy independence and mitigate the challenges posed by variability and intermittency of renewable energy systems.
Hydrogen is an enabler for sectoral integration as it offers a clean, sustainable, and flexible option to convert renewable electricity into a chemical energy carrier for use in
mobility, heat and industrial applications. Therefore, it is a key component of the future of energy systems that will accelerate the transition to a 100% decarbonized system. It also presents opportunities in terms of job creation, technological leadership, and environmental protection for Europe.
The hydrogen economy is already a $100 billion market worldwide. Hydrogen is today mainly used for the production of fuels (50% of the market), fertilizers (43%) and various industrial processes (6%) such as the production of glass and iron, as well as for various
food products such as margarine. Other uses of hydrogen exist but are still marginal on a global scale: the propulsion of vehicles (cars, buses, trains, boats); the production of electricity and heat for commercial and residential use; renewable energy storage in the form of hydrogen, or the substitution of natural gas with hydrogen in industrial and domestic applications. These uses are all growing.
The ability of hydrogen to access and integrate each sector of the energy system opens the opportunity for deploying renewables to a much greater extent. Power system with relying heavily on renewables can operate throughout long periods of non-consumption-oriented production of renewable energy by feeding hydrogen technologies into one or more energy sinks (for example in gas grids, storage tanks of hydrogen refuelling stations, and salt caverns). Stored hydrogen can be used on various timescales for satisfying demands for heat, transport, power or industry, thus achieving high utilization and absorption of energy. Whereas electricity derived from renewables provides the power sector with a profound decarbonization pathway, the heat and
mobility sectors as well as the industry do not yet have decarbonization pathways of equivalent significance. The versatility of hydrogen enables these sectors to be
integrated, deeply decarbonized thus contributing to Europe’s energy transition.