Hydrogen – the energy source of the future
Hydrogen supply systemThis hydrogen supply system at DLR’s Institute of Propulsion Technology in Cologne is used to develop efficient, high-performance gas turbines for aviation and energy generation.
Novel radiation receiver mounted on the research level of the Jülich solar towerWith the Jülich solar tower, the Solar Power Plant Technology Department within the DLR Institute of Solar Research operates the only solar-thermal tower power plant in Germany. Here, solar researchers work with industrial partners to test and develop components and systems for commercial solar-thermal power plants.
CryoLab – investigating tank modelsIn the CryoLab at the DLR Institute of Space Systems, experiments can be carried out with cryogenic liquid gases, including liquid hydrogen at minus 253 degrees Celsius.
Future mobilityFlexible to use, easy to transport and clean to burn – the advantages of hydrogen as an energy source make it a promising candidate for driving forward the energy and transport transition.
Sector coupling between electricity / heating / mobility in the energy system of the futureCoupling the electricity, heating and mobility sectors will make the urban infrastructure of future smart cities more efficient. The close interlinking of energy and information flows will make it possible to better coordinate energy production with demand.
An economy without greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 – this is Europe’s declared, 30-year goal for halting climate change. Renewable energies are expected to replace fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas. Hydrogen will play an important role in the sustainable transformation of the energy supply system.
Hydrogen is a highly versatile energy source with immense potential for synergies because it can be used across sector boundaries – in clean mobility, for the efficient supply of electricity and heating, as an energy storage medium to offset fluctuating supplies from renewable sources, and as a basis for alternative fuels or as a process gas in industry. Sustainably and economically produced hydrogen is therefore a key element in greatly reducing emissions – especially of the harmful greenhouse gas carbon dioxide – in the energy, transport and industrial sectors and thus in combating climate change. At the same time, the establishment of a cross-sectoral and, if possible, global hydrogen economy is opening up enormous opportunities for new technologies and business models.
DLR is active in all areas of hydrogen research and along the entire process chain – from production to storage and use. With the experience gained over several decades, its researchers are working to make it widely usable. DLR’s scientists can draw upon several decades of experience in working to exploit its potential. In order to produce hydrogen sustainably and economically on a large industrial scale in the near future, DLR is researching two main methods – electrolysis and solar-thermal processes. DLR is also investigating how hydrogen can be stored as efficiently and safely as possible and transported over long distances. DLR is developing both special fuel cells and new types of hydrogen tanks for mobile use, and is integrating them into the relevant systems, be they cars, buses, trucks, cargo bicycles, trains, aircraft or ships. Together with turbine and power plant manufacturers, DLR is conducting research in the fields of fuel flexibility and design concepts for ensuring that mixtures of natural gas and hydrogen burn as stably and with as few pollutant emissions as possible.
Background article: Overview of hydrogen research at DLR
DLR is examining the potential of green hydrogen as a source of energy for a climate-neutral energy system in a two-part study. The first part is considering the technologies and prospects for a sustainable and cost-effective hydrogen supply. The second focuses on the issue of sector coupling. Green hydrogen is sustainable and climate neutral, as it is produced from water and energy from renewable sources such as solar and wind power.
- Part 1 - Technologies and perspectives for a sustainable and economic hydrogen supply (PDF – in German)
- Part 2 - Sector coupling and hydrogen – two sides of the same coin (PDF – in German)
Electricity from solar thermal power plants can also be used to produce hydrogen in sunny countries. Information on this can be found in the DLR study 'Solar thermal power plants'. It provides the essential facts about the technology, effects and potential of solar thermal power plants.
Karsten Lemmer is the DLR Executive Board Member responsible for ‘Innovation, Technology Transfer and Research Infrastructure’ and is a member of the National Hydrogen Council, which advises the German Federal Government’s State Secretaries Committee for Hydrogen by making recommendations for implementing the national hydrogen strategy. Germany’s national strategy was developed as the European Commission was publishing its own plan and setting up the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance to put it into practice. Based on its own experience of hydrogen research at the European level, DLR welcomes the Commission's ambition and hopes to secure a more prominent role for science through a permanent representation within the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance.
Transporting, storing and distributing hydrogenTogether with production, cost-effective and reliable transport will be a key factor in realising a hydrogen economy. This involves both transport from global sites of production to nodes within customer countries and local distribution to end consumers.
The hydrogen systemSector coupling will play a central role in the restructuring of the energy system. This term refers to the networking of mobility, energy management and industry. As more technologies and sectors are integrated, the overall system will become more flexible and stable.
Sarina KellerHead of Directorate EnergyGerman Aerospace Center (DLR)Telephone: +49 2203 601-2256
Dipl.-Ing. Magnus LampHead of Directorate TransportGerman Aerospace Center (DLR)Telephone: +49 2203 601-3630
Fax: +49 2203 601-4712Linder HöheContact
Andreas ManeckeHead of Directorate AeronauticsGerman Aerospace Center (DLR)Telephone: +49 2203 601-2830
Susann GroßHead of Programme Space R&DGerman Aerospace Center (DLR)Programme Space R&DTelephone: +49 2203 601-3605