Senior ProjektledareContact Anders
RISE has run a project, HyCoGen, which analyses the possibility of profitable hydrogen production through sector coupling to district heating. Leading district heating suppliers in Sweden are participating. The purpose has been to show how hydrogen can be profitable and have good climate benefits.
The project has reported in detail how the residual heat in the electrolysis, can be utilized as district heating and thereby increase the efficiency of the process from approximately 66 to 95%. The EU's goal of producing 10 million tonnes of hydrogen per year by 2030 means a generation of 230 TWh residual heat, corresponding to four times Sweden's total district heating energy. It shows the potential and importance of using the residual heat in future investments.
For every kilogram of hydrogen that is produced, eight kilograms of oxygen are created, which can be used to improve combustion in a waste boiler. An alternative option is to transport it to a nearby water treatment plant, which then reduces the use of electricity for the pumps that circulate air in the biological purification step.
Svenska kraftnät has created several different markets for system services. Hydrogen production has good conditions to participate, especially with FCR-D. The analyses show that the revenue from these services is greater than both the residual heat and the oxygen.
Sector coupling to district heating creates a resource-efficient energy system where all residual flows can be used. Hydrogen storage can also contribute to a more robust and resilient energy system, with opportunities to supply critical infra structure with reserve power or to start up local power grids in island operation.
For the best possible profitability, based on existing data on electricity prices and the value of hydrogen, the produced hydrogen should be sold as fuel for heavy transport or as a raw material for industries.
Based on the input data and given conditions, it shows that the cost of producing hydrogen (SEK/kg) is minimized when the electrolysis is in operation approximately 80% of the year's hours. The plant is only shut down at the very highest electricity prices.
The "gas-to-power" scenario has not proven profitable, based on the historical input conditions. Historical electricity prices have not been high enough for pay off the investment in a gas turbine or fuel cell. At the same time, it can be misleading to compare prices where today's fossil fuels are included because these fuels are not an alternative in the long term.
Although the sector coupling to district heating increases the revenue opportunities for hydrogen production, there are still a number of uncertain parameters that affect profitability and the willingness to invest.
The project's final report will be published on this page no later than September 2023.
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