Green Hydrogen: Boom market

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Markets for the production, transport and utilization of hydrogen are showing dynamic development. Not surprising given the fact that more and more industrial companies believe that hydrogen will play a key role as a future source of fuel in the energy transition. This applies in particular to green hydrogen – hydrogen produced with renewable energies.

The demand for fossil fuel substitutes in industry is immense. A great deal of hope is being placed in green hydrogen. This is because it produces no direct emissions when used in industry. According to a study from auditing and consulting firm PwC Germany in collaboration with the World Energy Council and the Electric Power Research Institute, global demand for hydrogen as a source of energy will rise from 76 megatons at present to up to 600 megatons a year by 2050.

However, in order to be able to meet such demand, a corresponding infrastructure is required. And this includes not only industrial plants for the production of green hydrogen, but also, for example, routes for high-voltage lines, high-performance gas networks, and the corresponding supply chains.

Major industrial companies have positioned themselves to enter this market at an early stage, and an increasing number of hydrogen projects are being launched. There are many attractive growth prospects in the market: Forecasts suggest that the share of hydrogen in global final energy consumption could rise to as much as 25 percent by 2050 – depending on the cost of producing hydrogen, the infrastructure required and the degree of technological maturity.

“The hydrogen market promises high growth rates”

How are hydrogen production and transport markets developing? What technological solutions are currently emerging? And how is Bilfinger helping its customers use green hydrogen? Ulrich Trebbe, hydrogen expert
at Bilfinger, explains the market developments we are seeing at the moment.

Mr. Trebbe, how can green hydrogen be produced on a large scale, allowing it to be used profitably in industry?

Green hydrogen must become cheaper – and this requires large-scale production. And standards are needed to achieve this level of production. As long as components for the production, transport and use of hydrogen are designed and manufactured on a highly individual basis, each time according to the specific needs of the customer, such processes will continue to be extremely costly. Production in accordance with national or international standards makes it possible to achieve automated industrial manufacturing – and thus high cost efficiency. Ultimately, this requires global partnerships that map the entire value chain of this energy supply.

What progress has been made in the field in the last two years? What approaches are there to solving the problem?

The development of hydrogen markets is heavily dependent on politics. Initial framework conditions have been defined, but many questions are still open or have not yet been satisfactorily resolved. For example, various regulations in Europe still need to be adapted to give the industry the security to invest in large projects. Market development has recently been greatly helped by the fact that significant subsidies are available for relevant projects. They are leading to the creation of industrial hydrogen production plants that set new standards and to the development of pioneering electrolysers. In order to further fuel the market, however, there must soon be further steps taken by policymakers.

In addition to hydrogen production, hydrogen transport is also key to its widespread use. Are there any signs of suitable technological solutions on the horizon right now?

A number of different solutions for transporting green hydrogen are currently being intensively discussed and
tested. In addition to conventional transport in gaseous form – through pipelines, for example – technologies that use other media for transport are also increasingly gaining in importance. One of these technologies is the
so-called LOHC technology (Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carrier). For transport over longer distances (for example
from the Middle East or Australia), it will be an alternative to variants using methanol or ammonia. Bilfinger is therefore cooperating with technology owners in order to be able to deliver integrated solutions in the hydrogen cycle. 

What hydrogen projects in particular are currently underway? What projects is Bilfinger working on?

There are quite a few projects at the moment. The focus, however, is on helping customers develop industrial
plants for the production of green hydrogen. In cooperation with electrolysis producers, we are developing the balance of plant and ensuring the interfaces to the customer and their existing plant are managed in a meaningful way. As an integrator of energy generation projects, but also of hydrogen infrastructure and utilization, we serve as a link between hydrogen users and hydrogen producers. In addition, we contribute our expertise when it comes to the future use of existing hydrogen systems. In recent years, we have acquired a great deal of expertise in testing system technology, components and materials for what is known as hydrogen readiness.

What is your assessment of the hydrogen market? How strong will it be in terms of growth?

We expect very high growth rates in the hydrogen market, which has experienced significant movement recently.
This is because international and national CO2 targets are very ambitious and will lead to a large number of projects that will no doubt require our specialist expertise in many different respects. We therefore anticipate
a significant increase in orders for engineering and plant construction in Europe in the years ahead. We have also set the goal of moving into additional markets and combining our experience in other technologies to an even greater extent.

Your contact for questions:

Ulrich Trebbe
Head of Sales –
Engineering and Plant Construction at Bilfinger
Phone +49 172 4595619