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The Industry Transformation from Fossil Fuels to Hydrogen will Reorganize Value Chains: Big Picture and Case Studies for Germany


In many industries, low-carbon hydrogen will substitute fossil fuels in the course of the transformation to climate neutrality. This paper contributes to understanding this transformation. This paper provides an overview of energy- and emission-intensive industry sectors with great potential to defossilize their production processes with hydrogen. An assessment of future hydrogen demand for various defossilization strategies in Germany that rely on hydrogen as a feedstock or as an energy carrier to a different extent in the sectors steel, chemicals, cement, lime, glass, as well as pulp and paper is carried out. Results indicate that aggregate industrial hydrogen demand in those industries would range between 197 TWh and 298 TWh if production did not relocate abroad for any industry sector. The range for hydrogen demand is mainly due to differences in the extent of hydrogen utilization as compared to alternative transformation paths for example based on electrification. The attractiveness of production abroad is then assessed based on the prospective comparative cost advantage of relocating parts of the value chain to excellent production sites for low-carbon hydrogen. Case studies are provided for the steel industry, as well as the chemical industry with ethylene production through methanol and the production of urea on the basis of ammonia. The energy cost of the respective value chains in Germany is then compared to the case of value chains partly located in regions with excellent conditions for renewable energies and hydrogen production. The results illustrate, that at least for some processes – as ammonia production – relocation to those favorable regions may occur due to substantial comparative cost advantages.

Funding source: The project received funding by the Dr. Theo and Friedl Schöller Research Center through a Schöller Fellowship for Jonas Egerer. Veronika Grimm also thanks the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft for their support within project B08 in the ‘‘Sonderforschungsbereich/Transregio 154 Mathematical Modelling, Simulation and Optimization using the Example of Gas Networks’’.
Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics
Countries: Germany

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