The hy­dro­gen sys­tem

Sector coupling – networking as a key to success

Sector 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. The basic requirement for this integration is the interlinking and expansion of the supply chain infrastructures for electricity, heating and gas networks, and mobility.

Electrical power that is not immediately needed to satisfy demand can thus be converted into hydrogen for distribution and storage using the existing gas infrastructure. DLR is investigating the entire chain, from system-appropriate generation, cavern storage and transport all the way to end users. Scientists are also researching basic approaches to the connections and interfaces. For instance, fuel cell-powered vehicles could be used as decentralised mobile power supply units and provide large amounts of electricity and heat to buildings, other consumers or network services. Feeding energy back into power grids offers great potential for flexibility and is seen as a key element in future energy systems.

Green hydrogen is essential for the sustainability of a climate-neutral energy system. However, environmental impacts must not be shifted to the production phase of the required components. Given the critical nature of resources, it is important to find solutions for replacing or recycling them. Only with joined-up thinking and whole-system solutions which consider the challenges of all sectors – electricity, heating, mobility and industry – will it be possible to create a sustainable hydrogen economy.

Systems analysis – optimising control systems

DLR’s energy systems analysis aims to proactively identify and assess the economic, environmental and social impacts of potential transition paths. In doing so, it is developing scenarios for how hydrogen can be used in a future energy system. DLR is also conducting research into possible business models for production and storage of hydrogen, and analysing the potential of different locations, particularly in northern Germany. For geological reasons, such areas are particularly suitable for the type of infrastructure required.

With proactive, forward-looking analysis, the opportunities of new hydrogen technologies can be recognised in good time; the negative environmental and societal impacts of current practices can also be anticipated and minimised. In addition, these forecasts can help decision-makers devise appropriate market introduction strategies to strike a balance between immediate technological and economic opportunities and long-term development prospects.

Example projects:

  • eGoⁿ – An open network level and cross-sectoral planning tool for determining the optimal use and expansion of energy sector flexibility options in Germany.
  • MuSeKo - MuSeKo (Multi-Sector Coupling) – Model-based analysis for the integration of renewable electricity surpluses by linking power supply with the heating, gas and transport sectors.