Today, most stationary power systems run on natural gas. The idea of blending hydrogen into the gas pipeline network, however, has been under discussion for a while, and there have already been some tests conducted on its feasibility. Heating manufacturers have assured clients that current-generation systems can run on low-level 10 percent hydrogen blends and announced that the next generation could manage up to 30 percent. They said in the long term, it would also be possible to use hydrogen only. For example, Viessmann has announced that all of its new gas boilers would be “hydrogen-ready” starting in 2023 or 2024.
In late January, during the DVWG association’s Parliamentary Evening in Berlin, the chairman of Zukunft Erdgas, Timm Kehler, suggested converting one of four parallel transmission pipelines to deliver 100 percent hydrogen instead of a 25-percent blend in each. He pointed to the H21 project in Leeds, UK, where the city’s council aims to convert the gas supply to hydrogen only. Thorsten Herdan, director of energy policy at the German economy and energy ministry, replied that he could very well imagine using the L-gas pipeline network for this purpose, as it would no longer be needed anyway. However, the government would not step in but let the market decide what to do.
Jörg Bergmann, who chairs Open Grid Europe’s executive board, said his company had already been developing small hydrogen-only networks. Volkmar Pflug, vice president for energy economics at Siemens, explained that “gas turbines are not the issue. New ones accept up to 20 percent blends.“ He added that turbines to be put up by 2030 could be powered by hydrogen alone. ”As soon as there is enough gas available, turbines will be ready to run on 100 percent hydrogen,” he said and noted that old systems could be upgraded to do the same.
H – not L
Since 2015, an increasing number of L-gas pipelines in western Germany have been converted to deliver H-gas, that is, gas with a high calorific value. The less energy-dense L-gas has been extracted and for the most part used locally in the Netherlands and the German states of Bremen, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate, as well as Saxony Anhalt. By 2030, all sources that have a low calorific value will be replaced with methane-rich H-gas coming from Norway, Russia and the UK.
“When we devised the national hydrogen strategy, the building sector had not been foremost in our minds.“
Thorsten Herdan, German economy and energy ministry