Strategies for regional deployment of hydrogen infrastructure : The case of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Abstract: In response to the growing urge towards decarbonisation, more and more initiatives have been set to reduce and/or compensate the level of CO2 (carbon dioxide) emitted by human activities, which is one of the main responsible of the incumbent threats of “global warming” and “climate change”. “Climate neutrality by 2050” has become a decisive topic for political agendas worldwide and, against that background, the hydrogen economy can play a significant role. More and more countries have launched roadmaps and strategies for the creation of hydrogen value chains at national and international level. Also on regional scale, local integrated hydrogen ecosystems are growing, the so-called “Hydrogen Valleys”. These include German region North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), which officially presented a hydrogen roadmap in November 2020, establishing targets for both the short (2025) and medium terms (2030) for the adoption of hydrogen in the sectors of Mobility, Industry, Energy & Infrastructure. The purpose of the present thesis is to investigate techno-economic strategies for the introduction of a hydrogen infrastructure in NRW over the next 15 years (2035), enabling the achievement of the abovementioned targets. Moreover, being buses explicitly mentioned within NRW hydrogen roadmap, the present thesis focuses on strategies to ensure the optimal deployment of hydrogen buses within the region. The work is conducted with support from the research institute of Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ), North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany. A simulation model (H2MIND) developed by FZJ is taken as main research tool. The output from two other models by FZJ (FINE-NESTOR and FINE-Infrastructure, respectively), which defined the scenario behind the NRW H2 Roadmap, are reviewed and served as starting point for the adaptation of the H2MIND model. An integrative mapping activity regarding i) existing bus depots for NRW population mobility and ii) existing steel production sites in Germany serves the purpose of increasing the resolution of H2MIND model in the geospatial description of the potential hydrogen refuelling stations for bus companies in NRW. Both the hydrogen demand and production derived from FINE-NESTOR are distributed geospatially over Germany for the years 2025-2030-2035, according to the hydrogen-related technologies modelled within H2MIND. The demand is broken down into Buses, Trains, Cars, Heavy-Duty Vehicles (HDVs) and Light Commercial Vehicles (LCVs), Material Handling Vehicles (MHVs), Industrial uses for Steel, Ammonia, Methanol and other Chemicals. The production is modelled around onshore wind power plants, steam methane reforming industrial locations and import. Four hydrogen supply chain pathways were compared by H2MIND simulations: i) transport and distribution by gaseous hydrogen trailers (‘GH2 trucks’), ii) transport and distribution by liquefied hydrogen trailers (‘LH2 trucks’), iii) transport via newly built hydrogen pipelines plus distribution via gaseous hydrogen trailers (‘new pipelines’), iv) transport via reassigned natural gas pipelines plus distribution via gaseous hydrogen trailers (‘reassigned NG pipelines’). The analysis and assessment of the H2MIND simulation results are conducted mainly on economic merit. The key variable used for the assessment is the weighted average Total Expense (TOTEX) [€/kg H2]. This comparison is carried out from global-cost perspective, then the cost breakdown is considered in order to identify specific features in the cost determination. The weighted average TOTEX is calculated also for the case of onsite renewable energy-based electrolysis at bus hydrogen refuelling stations, in order to understand how such a strategic choice could impact the overall hydrogen supply chain cost – various shares of self-sufficiency at bus depots are considered, ranging from 0% (fully centralized configuration, no self-sufficiency) to 100% (total self-sufficiency, complete independent). An overall three-fold increase in hydrogen demand is expected between the years 2025 and 2035 (from 450.72 kt/yr to 1,862.33 kt/yr in Germany, and from 177.87 kt/yr to 519.16 kt/yr in NRW). Both on national and regional level, the main demand driver is expected to shift from the Industrial sector (in 2025) to Mobility (in 2035). As for the geospatial distribution, NRW concentrates the highest hydrogen demand in the country, covering alone approximatively one third of the total German hydrogen demand. Within NRW, the relevance of a district depends on what hydrogen-consuming sector is considered. For Mobility and public transportation, based on the allocation factors used within H2MIND model, Köln ranks as the8 |district with highest demand in many mobility sectors. For buses, Aachen, Wuppertal, Düsseldorf are the three top cities in the ranking in addition to Köln. Recommendation is that investments focus on high hydrogen-demand districts during the start-up phase of infrastructure development (period 2025-2035), where higher utilization factors of the infrastructural assets are expected and financial risks are therefore minimized. Looking into the weighted average TOTEX for the four analysed pathways, gaseous hydrogen trailers (‘GH2 trucks’) are the most convenient option for connecting production and consumption during the start-up phase of infrastructure development (period 2025-2035). Growing cost competitiveness is expected for ‘reassigned NG pipelines’ after 2035, thanks to the increased hydrogen demand and the higher utilization factor for pipelines. For the period 2025-2035, a fully centralized hydrogen supply pathway is the best option for covering bus-related hydrogen demand in the introductory phase of hydrogen infrastructure creation, with cost parity for onsite electrolysis being expected for the future after 2035.
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