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Scenarios to Decarbonize Austria’s Energy Consumption and the Role of Underground Hydrogen Storage


The European Union is aiming at reaching greenhouse gas (GHG) emission neutrality in 2050. Austria’s current greenhouse gas emissions are 80 million t/year. Renewable Energy (REN) contributes 32% to Austria’s total energy consumption. To decarbonize energy consumption, a substantial increase in energy generation from renewable energy is required. This increase will add to the seasonality of energy supply and amplifies the seasonality in energy demand. In this paper, the seasonality of energy supply and demand in a Net-Zero Scenario are analyzed for Austria and requirements for hydrogen storage derived. We looked into the potential usage of hydrogen in Austria and the economics of hydrogen generation and technology and market developments to assess the Levelized Cost of Hydrogen (LCOH). Then, we cover the energy consumption in Austria followed by the REN potential. The results show that incremental potential of up to 140 TWh for hydropower, photovoltaic (PV), and wind exists in Austria. Hydropower generation and PV is higher in summer- than in wintertime, while wind energy leads to higher energy generation in wintertime. The largest incremental potential is PV, with agrivoltaic systems significantly increasing the area amenable for PV compared with PV usage only. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) and Fuel Cell Vehicles (FCV) use energy more efficiently than Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars; however, the use of hydrogen for electricity generation significantly decreases the efficiency due to electricity–hydrogen– electricity conversion. The increase in REN use and the higher demand for energy in Austria in wintertime require seasonal storage of energy. We developed three scenarios, Externally Dependent Scenario (EDS), Balanced Energy Scenario (BES) or Self-Sustained Scenario (SSS), for Austria. The EDS scenario assumes significant REN import to Austria, whereas the SSS scenario relies on REN generation within Austria. The required hydrogen storage would be 10.82 bn m3 for EDS, 13.34 bn m3 for BES, and 18.69 bn m3 for SSS. Gas and oil production in Austria and the presence of aquifers indicates that sufficient storage capacity might be available. Significant technology development is required to be able to implement hydrogen as an energy carrier and to balance seasonal energy demand and supply.

Countries: Austria

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