What are the Biggest Challenges Facing Hydrogen Usage and Consumption?
Green hydrogen is expected to play a major role in the renewable energy revolution. However, before hydrogen usage becomes more widespread, several key challenges related to consumption must first be addressed.
Hydrogen consumption falls into three broad categories, each of which faces specific challenges:
1. Hydrogen consumption for clean transport
When used in a fuel cell, hydrogen allows us to produce electricity onboard cars, forklifts, trucks, trains and even airplanes and is distributed from hydrogen refueling stations. However, there are certain challenges for expanding the use of hydrogen in transport:
- Hydrogen storage systems inside the vehicle require different packaging to traditional fuels
- There are several material compatibility issues for lightweight vehicle components with hydrogen that must be individually certified
- In the EU, the installation of an onsite electrolyzer for local hydrogen generation or a hydrogen refueling station requires completion of a permitting process
- Regulations, Codes and Standard requirements for vehicle integration and homologation are moving targets
- Hydrogen refueling station design is currently a localized process with no widely applied standards
2. Hydrogen for energy generation
Hydrogen can be used to produce power and heat for homes and commercial properties. This has the added advantage that, with some modification, hydrogen can make use of existing natural gas infrastructure already found in homes and offices. However, there are certain obstacles in transforming the existing infrastructure to enable hydrogen for energy generation:
- Existing burners must be modified to be hydrogen compatible
- Local installations with hydrogen must address the issue of explosion protection and the differences between natural gas and hydrogen
- Hydrogen is odorless, so it is impossible for humans to smell a leak. It cannot be combined with sulfur (as with traditional natural gas) as this would introduce impurities.
- Heating of buildings with hydrogen fuel cells is currently happening in Japan and South Korea. The transfer from those markets to installation regulations elsewhere will require technical changes in system design.
3. Hydrogen consumption in industries
Hydrogen is widely used in several industries such as metalworking, flat glass production, the electronics industry and applications in electricity generation. However, remaining challenges with industrial hydrogen consumption include:
- The integration of new hydrogen systems such as electrolyzer plants into existing industry applications is complex
- Expertise is required for technical risk assessments as this represents a new and unfamiliar activity for many firms
- Manufacturers, EPC companies and operators within individual projects often start from different hydrogen knowledge points and sometimes follow different goals and timelines
- Innovative developments, such as using hydrogen in steel production are still at early stages of application and must be standardized before they can be used more widely
What Technologies are Being Used for Hydrogen Consumption and Usage?
There are currently three principal ways that green hydrogen is being used as a renewable energy source. These are:
1. Fuel cell technology
Hydrogen fuel cell technology is the cornerstone for mobility applications using hydrogen. Fuel cells can be used as an alternative to the internal combustion engine within forklifts, trucks, busses, and trains and, increasingly, passenger cars and aviation.
2. Burning hydrogen to generate electricity and heat
Burning hydrogen for energy is a well-known process within stationary applications and is already being used for households, apartment blocks and commercial properties in several countries around the world.
3. As feedstock in industrial production
Hydrogen can be used as a feedstock in a variety of industrial activities. For example, hydrogen can be burnt to produce heat in steel production. It is also heavily used as a basic material for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
Why Choose TÜV SÜD for Hydrogen Usage and Consumption Solutions?
TÜV SÜD has over 150 years’ experience assessing technologies and practices that are related to energy consumption. Our hydrogen testing and certification teams have worked with vehicle companies, heat/electricity providers and industrial companies who use hydrogen in their processes.
TÜV SÜD has in-depth knowledge of the opportunities and hazards related to hydrogen, especially in terms of mobility and industrial hydrogen usage. This experience means we understand the challenges that companies who use hydrogen face, and can support you to ensure any applications are safe and comply with relevant regulations:
- Testing: TÜV SÜD operates laboratories for testing worldwide
- Inspection: As a local accredited inspection agency we act based on national or regional Regulations, Codes or Standards (RCS) to ensure your project is compliant
- Certification: for pressurized equipment, TÜV SÜD is accredited as a Notified Body for pressure equipment under the 0036 for PED
Hydrogen usage and consumption services for manufacturers of components, systems or vehicle applications
There is growing interest in the potential of hydrogen as a form of green energy for transport. Around the world, several governments have prioritized this fuel and we are seeing growing vehicle fleets and ever more installations of hydrogen refueling stations for private and commercial vehicles.
TÜV SÜD provides a variety of services for suppliers of hydrogen-powered vehicles:
- Certification of stationary or transportable pressure equipment as a Notified Body (e.g. PED, TPED)
- Certification of components according to ATEX as a Notified Body
- CE certification for hydrogen applications
- Design review and review of Inspection and Test Plan (ITP) for assembly certification according to PED
- Risk Assessment (e.g. HAZOP or HAZID)
- Equipment testing to check conformity with legal or individual requirements e.g. ECE R 134 as technical Service accepted by KBA (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt)
- Risk assessment/HAZOP or HAZID studies for hydrogen systems for vehicle integration
- Testing for hydrogen generators
- Hydrogen material compatibility services
Hydrogen usage and consumption services for EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) companies
EPC companies are increasingly using hydrogen in both industry and property contexts. Whether you are using hydrogen in steel mills or installing burners in residential apartments, it is essential to ensure that all hydrogen installations are safe and secure.
TÜV SÜD provides EPC companies with a variety of hydrogen services:
- Certification of stationary pressure equipment as a Notified Body for assemblies based on PED
- Inspection services during the construction and manufacturing process, including:
- NDT tests
- Certification of material and material manufacturer (e.g. EN, BS or ASME)
- Welding Qualification
- Welder Qualification
- Review of Isometrics
- Inspections according to ITP
- Studies on leakages and fire and explosion behavior or propagation calculation
- Risk assessment/HAZOP or HAZID studies for hydrogen infrastructure
Hydrogen usage and consumption services for operators
As green hydrogen becomes more widely adopted, companies must ensure that their hydrogen infrastructure complies with relevant regulations. TÜV SÜD provides operators with a variety of services to ensure your hydrogen investments conform to all relevant standards:
- Expert opinions for the permitting process when applying to relevant authorities
- Services to support the permitting process/communication with authorities
- Inspection services based on local health, safety and environment requirements
- Risk-based inspection services for flexible reinspection procedures
- Review of a risk analysis or safety concept
- Final inspection reports prior to putting into service. For example, Safety, Emission, Water protection and the Energy Economics Act
- Inspection during operation according to local requirements
- Concept for recurrent inspections (who tests what kind of equipment at what time and in what way?)
- Monitor existing reliability of safety functions of an HRS e.g. SAE J 2601
- Test according to grid connection requirements
- Risk assessment/HAZOP or HAZID studies for hydrogen infrastructure (e.g. workshops for vehicle maintenance)
- Review of procedures for operations, leak detection, and measurement, maintenance, and emergency response to accommodate hydrogen
Hydrogen usage and consumption services for energy and maritime industries
Ever more energy and shipping companies are investigating hydrogen as an energy source as they transition to a renewable business model. TÜV SÜD provides a variety of services to support the use of hydrogen for energy and maritime companies:
- Development of cost models and financial models for hydrogen providers and users.
- Studies of market potential
- Business case development including the sustainability impact
- Modelling of storage impact and specific market potential
- Market studies and decision support for introduction of low and zero-emission fuels including hydrogen in the maritime industry
- Cost of electricity and electrolyzer equipment forecasts as an input into green hydrogen cost
- Competitor analysis and benchmarking through all value chain components
- Utilization/timing of Green H2 production, curtailment and operational optimization
- Assessment of ancillary services to the grid via electrolyzer load shaping
- Seasonal storage and H2 energy storage studies for high renewables penetration.
As green hydrogen usage rises, it will be essential for companies operating in this sector to ensure it can be safely used by consumers and business customers. TÜV SÜD provides you with expert guidance on your next hydrogen project and offers tailored services to meet your needs. To find out more about our hydrogen consumption support services, contact us today.