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Green or Blue: What is the Best Color for the Hydrogen Economy?

Schalk Cloete's picture
Research Scientist Independent

My work on the Energy Collective is focused on the great 21st century sustainability challenge: quadrupling the size of the global economy, while reducing CO2 emissions to zero. I seek to...

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There's no denying it: Global political will is building behind the vision of a net-zero emission society. Europe wants to become the first net-zero continent and even China has recently jumped on the net-zero bandwagon, targeting 2060

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But we’re going to need a lot more than that. As shown below, the sharp emissions reductions Covid-19 caused in 2020 will need to continue if we want to achieve the 1.5 degrees target. However, climate change tends to slide down the policy agenda during times of socioeconomic hardship, so we can expect emissions to resume their upwards trend when this pandemic finally subsides. 

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The good news is that clean energy has come a long way over the past two decades. Wind and solar power have seen great cost reductions and are leading the decarbonization charge at present. However, there are two big challenges with a deep decarbonization effort led by variable renewable energy (VRE):

  • Wind and solar supply only electricity, which represents just 20% of global final energy consumption today
  • Wind and solar are variable and non-dispatchable, requiring additional technologies to supply energy when there is little wind and sun and others dedicated to consuming excess wind and solar power. 

These two challenges have recently rekindled interest in the old idea of a hydrogen economy. Hydrogen is a carbon-free fuel that can decarbonize a sizable fraction of the 80% non-electric final energy consumption while simultaneously balancing VRE. 

This is the premise we investigated in our recent paper published open access in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy. In particular, the paper looked at the issue of capital under-utilization involved in the strategy of balancing wind and solar with flexible hydrogen production. 


The Modeled System

To properly evaluate the effects of capital under-utilization, we had to include all the major elements of the integrated electricity-hydrogen system: generation, transmission, and storage. The modeled system (based on Germany) is summarized in the image below:

Graphical summary of the modelled system. Electrolyzers (PEM) are either located close to demand (in the “Flexible centralized demand” box) or close to wind power (in the “Co-location scenario” box). The numbers represent the following costs: 1) additional transmission costs for wind and solar; 2) conventional transmission costs; 3) hydrogen transmission; 4) hydrogen distribution; 5) reconversion of imported ammonia.

The following technology options were included:

  • Ten different electricity generators: onshore wind, solar PV, pulverized coal and natural gas combined cycle plants with and without CCS, open cycle gas turbine peaker plants, hydrogen combined and open cycle plants, and novel gas switching reforming (GSR) concept.
  • Lithium-ion batteries for electricity storage.
  • Three clean hydrogen generators: GSR, steam methane reforming (SMR) with CCS, and polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysis. 
  • Two hydrogen storage technologies: cheap salt caverns with slow charge/discharge rates and locational constraints and more expensive storage tanks without such limits and constraints.
  • Hydrogen can also be imported in the form of green ammonia that is reconverted to hydrogen in reconversion plants included in the model.

In addition, the costs of the electricity and hydrogen transmission network connecting all these technologies to demand are included in the simulation. 

The model objective is to optimize the deployment and hourly dispatch of all these technologies to minimize the cost of the entire system. 


Four Scenarios

Our study considered two scenarios where hydrogen could only be produced via electrolysis (Green H2) and two where Blue H2 from natural gas with CCS was also allowed. 

  • NoCCS: All technologies are available except for power or hydrogen production with CCS. PEM is located close to demand.
  • CoLoc: Identical technology availability to the NoCCS scenario, except that PEM is co-located with wind close to cheap salt cavern storage.
  • CCS: Identical to the NoCCS scenario, except that conventional power and hydrogen plants with post-combustion CO2 capture technology are also made available for deployment. Only the GSR technology is not available.
  • AllTech: Identical to the CCS scenario, except that GSR is also available for deployment. GSR is a novel flexible power and hydrogen production technology designed for the economic integration of higher shares of VRE. 

The NoCCS and CoLoc scenarios differ in terms of the placement of the electrolyzers. In NoCCS, electrolyzers are located close to demand, meaning that wind and solar peaks must be transmitted through the costly transmission network to use hydrogen production for balancing VRE. 

In CoLoc, electrolyzers are deployed in the north of the country where the wind resource is good, and cheap salt cavern hydrogen storage is a possibility. This avoids the large electricity transmission costs of the NoCCS scenario, but it increases hydrogen transmission costs and restricts electrolyzers to use only wind power from the north of the country. 


The Effect of Hydrogen Demand

It is highly uncertain how much hydrogen will be consumed in the clean energy economy of the future. In this study, demand was varied between 0 and 600 TWh/year, which corresponds to 0–33% of current German non-power oil & gas consumption. 

Generation Mix and CO2 Emissions

With a CO2 price of €100/ton, the cost-optimal electricity mix looks like this in the four scenarios:

OCGT = open cycle gas turbine, NGCC = natural gas combined cycle, GSR = gas switching reforming, NGCC-CCS = NGCC with CO2 capture and storage, PEM = proton electrolyte membrane electrolysis, GSRH2 = GSR electricity consumption when producing hydrogen. H2 D&I = electricity consumption from hydrogen distribution and imports. 

The two Green H2 scenarios (NoCCS and CoLoc) give similar results. In both cases, higher levels of hydrogen demand strongly increase the required electricity generation because of large demand from electrolyzers (PEM).

However, a disappointing finding from this study is that no increase in wind and solar market share is observed as the level of hydrogen demand increases. For this reason, the CO2 emissions intensity of these scenarios stays relatively high. 

The reason for this behavior is the large capital under-utilization involved in using electrolyzers to absorb large wind and solar peaks, as will be discussed in more detail in the following section. 

In the Blue H2 scenarios, greater hydrogen demand does not increase the required electricity generation because hydrogen is produced via natural gas reforming. In the CCS scenario, there is no connection between hydrogen and power production, so the optimal generation mix remains unchanged with hydrogen demand. 

However, the AllTech scenario shows that greater hydrogen demand increases the share of power production from GSR. When there is some demand for hydrogen, GSR can exploit its ability to flexibly produce either power or hydrogen to balance VRE while maintaining a high utilization rate of most of the plant capital. This increases the VRE share in the optimal electricity mix.

Cost Breakdown

As shown below, the Green H2 scenarios turn out to be considerably more expensive than the Blue H2 scenarios at higher levels of hydrogen demand.

The reason for this is that hydrogen produced from electrolysis will always be more expensive than the electricity used to produce it, whereas natural gas can be converted to hydrogen at a significantly lower cost than it can be converted to electricity. Thus, more hydrogen production increases the levelized cost of electricity and hydrogen (LCOEH) in the Green H2 scenarios and reduces it in the Blue H2 scenarios. 

Unabated = fossil fuel plants without CCS, CCS = CO2 capture and storage, LCOEH = levelized cost of electricity and hydrogen. 

The orange bars labeled “Other” amount to a substantial fraction of the total system cost in the Green H2 scenarios. This cost is examined more closely in the figure below.

T&D = transmission and distribution, PEM = proton electrolyte membrane electrolysis. 

Clearly, electricity transmission costs are the biggest component of the "Other" costs in the NoCCS scenario. This scenario locates electrolyzers close to demand, requiring large additional transmission capacity to deliver the electricity produced by distant wind and solar farms. 

In the CoLoc scenario, these transmission system costs are considerably lower because electrolyzers are co-located with wind farms in the north of the country. However, hydrogen transmission and distribution (T&D) costs are higher in this scenario because hydrogen must be transmitted from the north throughout the entire country. 

The CCS scenario requires only mild investments in H2 T&D infrastructure because hydrogen is generated according to market needs close to demand centers. These costs are significantly higher in the AllTech scenario because flexible power production from GSR implies a more intermittent hydrogen production profile, requiring more transmission and storage capacity to handle the intermittent hydrogen fluxes. 


The Effect of CO2 Prices

As illustrated in the previous section, the Green H2 scenarios still produced considerable CO2 emissions, even with a CO2 price of €100/ton. Achieving deep decarbonization will require higher CO2 prices. 

Generation Mix and CO2 Emissions

The graph below illustrates the effect of higher CO2 prices on the optimal electricity mix and CO2 emissions intensity. Hydrogen demand is set to 400 TWh/year in all cases. 

OCGT = open cycle gas turbine, NGCC = natural gas combined cycle, GSR = gas switching reforming, NGCC-CCS = NGCC with CO2 capture and storage, PEM = proton electrolyte membrane electrolysis, GSRH2 = GSR electricity consumption when producing hydrogen. H2 D&I = electricity consumption from hydrogen distribution and imports.

Clearly, higher CO2 prices substantially reduce the CO2 emissions in the Green H2 cases by displacing unabated natural gas-fired power generation with wind and solar. 

In the Blue H2 scenarios, an increase in CO2 price from 50 to 100 €/ton had a large effect by incentivizing CCS in the power sector. Beyond this point, further increases in CO2 price have only a small effect because CO2 emissions are already very low at €100/ton. Most notably, higher CO2 prices incentivize more GSR and VRE in the AllTech scenario. 

Cost Breakdown

As shown below, the reduction in CO2 emissions in the Green H2 scenarios comes at a cost. Given their generally lower emissions, the cost of the Blue H2 scenarios is less sensitive to increased CO2 prices. 

Unabated = fossil fuel plants without CCS, CCS = CO2 capture and storage, LCOEH = levelized cost of electricity and hydrogen.

In the NoCCS scenario, €200/ton is enough to allow the system to transition to using electrolyzers instead of NGCC plants as the primary mechanism for balancing VRE. This is reflected in the considerable reduction in "Unabated" power production costs and the increase in "Other" costs when the CO2 price is increased from 150 to 200 €/ton. Other costs increase sharply because this strategy requires large transmission network overbuilds to transmit VRE peaks to electrolyzers. 

The CoLoc scenario shows a smoother trend. Here, increased CO2 prices also incentivize more VRE balancing via electrolysis instead of NGCC power plants. This also results in a steady increase in "Other" costs due to the lower utilization rate of electrolyzers, H2 transmission pipelines, and H2 storage infrastructure when handling increasingly pronounced peaks of intermittent hydrogen production. 

This scenario is also highly dependent on the availability of cheap salt cavern hydrogen storage close to the co-located wind and electrolyzer capacity. Such capacity is scarce around Europe, and its exploitation could face considerable public resistance. If more expensive tank storage must be used, system costs increase to the level of the NoCCS scenario, and 40% of hydrogen demand must be imported. 

Only minor effects are observed in the Blue H2 scenarios, mainly the aforementioned transition from unabated power plants to CCS power plants when the CO2 price is increased from 50 to 100 €/ton. 


Conclusions

The main conclusion from this study is that, although hydrogen can be used to integrate higher shares of wind and solar, this strategy brings considerable costs due to capital under-utilization.

  • When electrolyzers are co-located with demand, expensive transmission network expansions are required to transmit wind and solar production peaks to electrolyzers.
  • When electrolyzers are co-located with wind power, the low utilization of electrolyzers and the large hydrogen transmission and storage capacity required to handle intermittent hydrogen fluxes inflate system costs. 
  • When conventional CCS power plants are deployed, the model chooses to operate these plants under baseload conditions to maximize the utilization of expensive CCS infrastructure, limiting VRE deployment.
  • Flexible power and hydrogen production from GSR can integrate more wind and solar, but the associated intermittent hydrogen production increases hydrogen transmission and storage costs, reducing the positive impact of this novel process. 

Such a whole-system perspective is critical for optimizing the rollout of the energy transition. Given the high level of technology interdependence involved in such integrated electricity-hydrogen systems, careful planning is required to minimize costs and complexity. Blue hydrogen has an important role to play in this regard and should not be dismissed from the policy agenda. 

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Nov 30, 2020

"However, a disappointing finding from this study is that no increase in wind and solar market share is observed as the level of hydrogen demand increases."

Schalk, there's a reason for that: the sole purpose of hydrogen is to market natural gas as a fake-green fuel.

Hydrogen has been an ongoing marketing project of the world's largest industry for 30 years. Like grid-scale batteries, solar/wind advocates are how clinging to it with cult-like devotion as a possible solution to the unsolveable, unmanageable problem of intermittency. It makes no physical nor economic sense, and never will.

What's truly disappointing is that anyone is taking hydrogen seriously.

The Hype About Hydrogen: Fact and Fiction in the Race to Save the Climate

 

Schalk Cloete's picture
Schalk Cloete on Dec 1, 2020

Yes, there is no doubt that hydrogen is more expensive and less practical to handle than fossil fuels. But that doesn't make it useless. 

The fact is that 80% of our final energy consumption comes from molecules and not electrons. Sure, we can electrify many things, but even hydrogen molecules will remain a more practical and economical decarbonization option than electricity for several vital sectors. 

In short, we have to make it work. Ammonia and bio-based methanol can help with the low volumetric energy density issues posed by hydrogen. 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Dec 2, 2020

Do you have evidence green ammonia, green hydrogen, or green methanol exists in commercial quantities, outside of a laboratory? I haven't seen any, and there's a very good reason: it's impractical - a fantasy

If electrolysis was perfectly efficient, we'd get the exact amount of energy we've spent back again when H2 is recombined with oxygen in a PEM fuel cell. But no chemical process is perfectly efficient, and the round trip efficiency of hydrogen is abysmal (6%). So nearly all of the energy we've created is wasted.

That means even the greenest of green hydrogen is, in reality, the darkest of dark brown.

With any amount of renewable energy we use as an input, we have to multiply by the efficiency of the process to make hydrogen (.06), subtract the energy cost of pumping water, compressing hydrogen, liquefying it. etc. and we end up with a final fuel with less energy than it took to make it. Though the mathematical term for such a process would be "net-negative", more intuitive is "going backwards".

Schalk Cloete's picture
Schalk Cloete on Dec 2, 2020

I'm not talking about power-to-gas-to-power - only power-to-gas. In the long-run, this has an efficiency of over 70%, which is not bad. The idea is to electrify everything that we can and then use H2-based fuels for the rest. 

As our study shows, green H2 is certainly more expensive than blue, but it is not as ridiculously unaffordable as you suggest. 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Dec 3, 2020

"I'm not talking about power-to-gas-to-power..."

Why not? Electrolysis is only 70% efficient in ideal circumstances, and you're left with a rarified gas at atmospheric pressure - useless for any commercial or transportation purposes. Pressurizing H2 and liquifying it are extremely energy-intensive, not to mention pumping it and transporting to where it needs to go.

Far better off charging batteries with renewable electricity - as if there's more than enough of that to go around.

Schalk Cloete's picture
Schalk Cloete on Dec 8, 2020

We all agree that H2 is not working for P2G2P due to the losses involved in multiple conversions. That's what I tried to communicate in my previous comments. The main vision for Green H2 is not to balance the power sector, but to decarbonize some of the 80% of final energy that currently comes from molecules and not electrons. This is a tremendously important role because, well, only 20% of our current final energy is delivered by electricity. In this case, we have a reasonable 70% efficiency (note that H2 can be delivered at 20-30 bar from the electrolyzer), which is not bad. No doubt it is more expensive than the current fossil fuel norm, but it is not unaffordable.  

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Dec 8, 2020

P2G2P isn't only electrical power. It's power to run industrial process, to move cars, trains, trucks, and airplanes. That requires fuel cells, and pressurization/liquefaction, and all the other energy costs (btw, 20-30 bar is nothing - it's typically stored in vehicle tanks at a minimum of 350 bar).

Bottom line: green hydrogen is definitely more expensive than the steam-reformed variety. So unless hydrogen produced by renewable-powered electolysis, with all energy costs included, creates less CO2 than burning methane (or even gasoline), we're going backwards.

I've seen no evidence that's the case, and I think that's intentional. Shell, Exxon-Mobil, and other oil majors are counting on innocent belief in the fantasy of "green hydrogen" to help finance the construction of hydrogen infrastructure. Then, they'll make it by steam-reforming methane. Why? It's more profitable.

Maybe they'll mix in 1-2% green hydrogen to keep the illusion going, with promises to increase its concentration over time (but no intention of doing so).

Ned Ford's picture
Ned Ford on Dec 10, 2020

Bob wants to see evidence that commercial production of renewable hydrocarbons or whatever ammonia is - are being produced today.   Consider this:  You just sunk $150 million into a pasture in Missouri, and you are making power at about 2 cents per KWh.  Are you going to sell it to an ammonia manufacture, where your product will be 0.5 cents above the fossil fuel market?   Or to the grid, where you undercut some creaky old coal plants by 50%?

Some entrepreneurs will sidestep these basics.  Carbonengineering.com is building its own renewable generation.  But the vast majority of the renewable chemical industry is going to wait for the renewables to mature, when the grid starts looking for variable load at less than 1.5 cents per KWh, and perhaps a lot less.   That is when the hydrogen economy will kick off. 

And sorry, I don't see fuel cells ever competing with electric cars.   But perhaps for offroad, trucks, and a few other less mainstream uses.  Hydrogen storage - to be used in existing natural gas plants looks like the center stage to me.

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on Dec 2, 2020

Thanks Schalk, for mention of "bio-based methanol."

Perhaps of interest, most of the difficult chemical tricks of synthesis are already practiced by cell biology. Worth buying a used textbook to end the dead end thinking of many. We don't need industry to copy all of the process since we will still need agriculture.

But consistent with your article, balancing electric production with fuels production, methanol related biomass breakdown products are a good fit. Indeed, electric lights are getting so efficient that copying fire photochemistry might not need solar photons to break cellulose.

As for Bob's bio-green "fantasy" remark, ethanol fuel clearly does exist. And the world still eats very well.

Schalk Cloete's picture
Schalk Cloete on Dec 2, 2020

Hmm... I don't know about using electric lights to replace the sun. Even LEDs will struggle to crack 50% efficiency in the future. 

I certainly agree that bioenergy has a role to play. The technical potential for sustainable biomass production can probably supply somewhere in the order of 10% of final energy demand, coving a substantial fraction of the chemical energy carriers we will need in the future. 

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Dec 3, 2020

Understood, Rick. I was referring to green methanol, not ethanol.

I believe biosynthesis of methanol is endothermic, is it not? I know the majority of methanol is produced by steam-reforming methane - like ammonia, it's another faux-green fossil fuel.

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on Dec 5, 2020

Thanks Bob. I'm not aware of "biosynthesis of methanol." But what I'm aware of is hardly worth typing. What I do know is that the polymer of glucose in the form we call cellulose is worth learning a lot about. Basically, cellulose is a molecular crystal that makes violins if cared for or oil and gas if left to become fossil. The chemical synthesis in a cell is highly localized and specialized in steps. The way biology describes reaction energy is backwards from chemical engineering. First, you start with the high energy of (eg.) a photon and then lose energy each step to the desired product. So the molecular crystal cellulose is very low energy.

The production of bio-methanol can occur by blasting cellulose with energy, leaving some product chaos including high energy methanol. Or, perhaps mono-chromatic light. Regardless, chain saws and firewood are not good ways to use this abundant fuel many of us are tripping over. Refining fuels should include cellulose.

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on Dec 9, 2020

Perhaps the disconnect between Norwegian Schalk and LA Bob is their geography, not their science.

Producing hydrogen gas fuel from electrolysis requires very pure water, eg. Norwegian snow. LA Bob doesn't have it so he thinks methane for hydrogen. Neither advocate a global solution. Both advocate favored essential energy development, not mutually exclusive.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 9, 2020

Neither advocate a global solution

And this is always key-- regional, local solutions are going to be needed and that global silver bullet will remain off in the distance, never quite achieved!

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Nov 30, 2020

I'm always struck by the failure of "whole-system" studies to support the hope that batteries will fix the variability in solar and wind production.  Batteries seem initially appealing, then the detailed studies show them not helping much as fossil fuel works best for smoothing renewables.

The trends that do emerge show that when cost is considered, fossil fuel holds onto a big market share, even with very low cost assumption for variable renewables.  And of course, when nuclear is forced out by policy, fossil fuels win.

This plot from a prior study including the GSR hydrogen show the link between decreasing nuclear and increase fossil fuel more clearly.

Gen mix sensativities

Schalk Cloete's picture
Schalk Cloete on Dec 1, 2020

Indeed, batteries are of little value in wind-dominated energy systems like the one simulated here. I have yet to simulate a solar dominated system, but I am sure that batteries will be much more valuable in such systems where they can predictably charge and discharge every day. 

Of course, the problem is that the regions with the most reliable solar resource are also extremely hot, so not much of the world population would like to live there...

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Dec 1, 2020

Oh Schalk, you simply must visit California.  People love it there (not even sky-high real estate prices can keep them away, from the beautiful weather, beckoning ocean, and abundant tech jobs).  For most population centers, the desert is just  a short distance away (beyond the mountains).

California also has the perfect conditions for nuclear baseload: hardly any seasonal demand peaks, and BEVs with night-time charging to smooth out the day/night cycle.  It does have seasons though; the winter rainy season can be gloomy, but is also beautiful, because the hills green-up and wildflowers bloom (at least during non-drought years).

No doubt PV with batteries will work out better in California than most of the US, but it will still demand a much larger fossil fuel component than a nuclear-rich grid would.  You'd think the new Natrium nuclear plant (fast reactor with thermal energy storage) was made for California, but I doubt they'll use it.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Dec 2, 2020

"No doubt PV with batteries will work out better in California than most of the US, but it will still demand a much larger fossil fuel component than a nuclear-rich grid would."

Nathan, there is considerable controversy in California whether  8-Minute Energy's flagship Eland 1 & 2 Solar + Storage plants are storing solar energy in their batteries or a grid mix.

If it's a grid mix, that's a problem. With gas making up 60% of California's average energy mix, and batteries wasting 20-40% of their energy in losses to resistance and bi-directional inversion, what comes out of batteries is significantly dirtier than what went in. Though advocates claim energy will be stored when there's a surplus of solar energy anyway, battery storage is currently being used at all times of the day and night - whenever it's profitable.

I've inquired with both EIA and 8-Minute about what's charging Eland's batteries; EIA doesn't know, 8-Minute doesn't return calls. Sorry, but putting the batteries next to a solar farm doesn't magically make electricity in them any cleaner than generating gas-fired juice straight to the grid. Probably, it's dirtier.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Dec 2, 2020

"...  considerable controversy in California ... what's charging Eland's batteries ..."

That's an important concept, so I'm glad it's getting some attention.  Adding batteries or electrolysis to the grid only results in clean energy when they use clean electricity which would have been curtailed ("renewable energy credits" simply play no role here since they really just indicate when renewable energy is more valuable than fossil fuel energy).  And with current clean energy curtailment rates of a couple percent in the worst locations, that's not realistic today.

I think deploying demonstration plants to help mature new tech has value even if they do use a bit of fossil fuel.  That would apply to things like flow batteries and steam electrolysis, which have few application outside of grid use.  This makes absolutely no sense for tech like lithium-ion batteries, which have billion dollar markets in phones, laptop computers, and BEVs.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 3, 2020

I think deploying demonstration plants to help mature new tech has value even if they do use a bit of fossil fuel.  

This is fair, even if it's a bit of a tightrope to walk. We've been sold natural gas as a 'bridge fuel' before, so we need to be wary not to carve out a space where fossil fuels will be even further viable for extended time because of such early-stage storage projects 

Schalk Cloete's picture
Schalk Cloete on Dec 2, 2020

Indeed, California certainly is a notable exception to the clear global correlation between colder temperatures and per-capita economic output, but I think my statement is valid for the world in general. 

I agree that nuclear with thermal energy storage would work well in a solar-dominated system. I hope GEH succeeds to commercialize the technology!

Ned Ford's picture
Ned Ford on Dec 5, 2020

Taking into consideration Bob Meinetz' comments and your reply, I want to know what parameters were considered for renewable electricity costs.   Today's available prices are not indicative of what is proven to be coming.

In late 2017 the cost of a new wind or solar farm dropped about 40%.  This has already resulted in wind and solar projects producing power for less than 1.5 cents.   If you are considering Germany's access to wind and solar I can't comment on the prospects.  But I would assume that Germany can either build transmission lines, or pipelines.

I also don't think it is safe to assume continued low prices for natural gas, but I don't see future changes in the natural gas industry clearly, whereas the changes in the electricity market are quite clear.  I do take note of Germany's political reluctance to increase dependence on unreliable suppliers of natural gas.

I spent some time on board the "Hype about Hydrogen" school of thought, but that was mostly directed at the prospects of hydrogen vehicles, for which I think that argument is still solid.   Then I wondered if hydrogen might be easily converted to methane.

Using excess peak generation to produce hydrogen at very low cost is an enormous set of options.   No one is going to build facilities to capture the excess power until it amounts to a resource which is available at least twenty percent of the time, and in the mean time a lot of industrial processes and perhaps smaller customers will change time of use to conform with excess availability of power.

More pertinent is the fact that by the time we have built the peak year of new wind or solar, and excess manufacturing capacity begins to become a thing, we are going to see some costs for renewable electricity that look like excess capacity prices all the time the wind blows or the sun shines.

So I don't accept that hydrogen from renewables is off the table.   I can see some possible barriers in Germany which aren't relevant to most of the rest of the world.

I would really like to see a straightforward discussion of the price points at which one or the other fuels prevail.   That can't be too hard to produce.

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