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The Potential Role of a Hydrogen Network in Europe


Europe’s electricity transmission expansion suffers many delays, despite its significance for integrating renewable electricity. A hydrogen network reusing the existing gas network could not only help to supply the demand for low-emission fuels but could also balance variations in wind and solar energies across the continent and thus avoid power grid expansion. Our investigation varies the allowed expansion of electricity and hydrogen grids in net-zero CO2 scenarios for a sector-coupled European energy system, capturing transmission bottlenecks, renewable supply and demand variability, and pipeline retrofitting and geological storage potentials. We find that a hydrogen network connecting regions with low-cost and abundant renewable potentials to demand centers, electrofuel production, and cavern storage sites reduces system costs by up to 26 bnV/a (3.4%). Although expanding both networks together can achieve the largest cost reductions, by 9.9%, the expansion of neither is essential for a net-zero system as long as higher costs can be accepted and flexibility options allow managing transmission bottlenecks.

Funding source: F.N., E.Z., and T.B. gratefully acknowledge funding from the Helmholtz Association under grant no. VH-NG1352.
Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics
Countries: Germany

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