What role will hydrogen and synthetic fuels play in industry in the future?
The use of hydrogen and other electricity-based synthetic hydrocarbons have the potential to contribute to the decarbonization of industry. Hydrogen is already widely used for specific industrial processes, such as ammonia and methanol production. However, synthetic energy sources are also suitable for the decarbonization of other industrial production processes or in the provision of heat. The prerequisite is CO2-neutral production of hydrogen, such as via electrolysis. Today, hydrogen is mostly obtained from steam reforming of natural gas. In addition, there are higher conversion losses and co-products in the production of hydrogen and other synthetic hydrocarbons compared to direct electrification measures. Therefore, from an energy system perspective, the rule is: as few synthetic energy sources as possible, as many as necessary. The FfE is conducting research into the future significance of synthetic energy carriers in the industry, using, among other things, the FfE industry model “SmInd.”
Specifically, we are looking at the following questions:
- In which industrial processes and at what scale will synthetic fuels be prospectively used in a nearly complete transformation of the industry?
- To what extent do conversion losses and co-products of electrolysis affect efficiency in industry?
- What are the overarching drivers for the use of hydrogen in the industry?
- Why is hydrogen not the sole solution to achieve the decarbonization of industry?