29.01.2024 | Potential, costs and visions for the future of hydrogen

H2 demand: a look into the crystal ball

Green hydrogen will remain a hot topic in the area of decarbonisation and the energy transition in 2024. The industry seemed to agree on this at the Swiss H2 summit in Zurich. Axpo also wants to play its part in developing the hydrogen economy in Switzerland and is about to open its first own H2 plant. At this year's Swiss Hydrogen Summit, politicians, business leaders and industry representatives discussed the hurdles and opportunities of the fuel of the future.

Green hydrogen, which is produced from renewable energy, plays an important role in reducing CO2 emissions. All participants at this year's forum in Zurich agreed on this. H2 and its derivatives are seen as crucial elements in Switzerland's future energy supply. According to Heike Worm, member of the strategy board of the consulting firm Polynomics, Switzerland's integration into the European network is crucial. Christian Pho Duc, CTO of Smartenergy, adds that there are opportunities in Switzerland in particular for small projects that can be realised more quickly than those abroad.

Hydrogen from Graubünden 

One such project is Axpo's first own hydrogen production plant at the Reichenau hydropower plant in Domat/Ems. There is currently a lot of talk and planning on the subject of hydrogen, but there are actually still very few H2 plants. Axpo is playing a leading role in the research and production of green hydrogen in Switzerland. Various projects for a climate-neutral future in Switzerland and abroad are on track. The commissioning of the hydrogen production plant (2.5 MW) in the canton of Graubünden is imminent. The power-to-gas plant will produce up to 350 tonnes of green hydrogen per year. This corresponds to around 1.5 million litres of diesel fuel.

Way to net zero 

Green hydrogen can help to achieve the Swiss net-zero target, said Markus Bareit, Hydrogen Project Manager at the Swiss Federal Office of Energy. The SFOE is currently working on a hydrogen strategy, which is due to be published in the second half of this year. However, in order to draw up a strategy in Switzerland at all, it is necessary to know the demand, said Bareit. However, the actual demand is sometimes like looking into a crystal ball. 

Detailed figures on the costs and benefits of hydrogen, as well as information on the potential of hydrogen in Switzerland. The most important findings and the PDF can be found here.

Switzerland as an island 

In addition to the costs, however, one topic in particular remained essential for the industry experts: How high will the demand for hydrogen be in the future? There is no clear answer. The demand models in different countries differ significantly in some cases, as Christian Schaffner, Head of the ETH Energy Science Centre, made clear. Schaffner was also recently a guest on the Axpo Energy Voices podcast. Ultimately, the question of demand is also central to the discussion on how Switzerland will integrate itself into the European hydrogen network. "Switzerland is not an island," said Arno Büx, Chief Commercial Officer of the global infrastructure partner Fluxys.  Martin Candinas, member of the National Council, who is behind the postulate on the federal government's “Auslegeordnung Wasserstoff”, added: "Hydrogen will also play a role in Switzerland.”

Significant contribution to decarbonisation 

The industry was clear: renewable gases will make a significant contribution to decarbonisation. "The real challenge is the parallel transition to renewable electricity production and decarbonisation of oil-based products, said Luka Cuderman, Business Strategy Manager of Axpo's hydrogen team, in his presentation at the H2 Summit. Axpo is convinced that green hydrogen is a clean and renewable energy carrier. However, there was a consensus at the industry meeting that hydrogen still has some hurdles to overcome, especially when it comes to cost-benefit ratios. The main cost driver is currently the electricity required, Cuderman continued.

About the Swiss Hydrogen Summit

The Forum for Hydrogen and Derivatives is an independent platform for decision-makers from utilities, politics, industry and research. The summit highlights current trends in the field of hydrogen and hydrogen derivatives and provides a comprehensive and in-depth overview of the strategic and technical challenges in this environment.


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