Coupling Power and Hydrogen Sector Pathways To Benefit Decarbonization

The MIT-led research team studied the role and impact of hydrogen-based technology pathways in future low-carbon integrated energy systems and discovered the benefits of co-optimizing hydrogen and electricity supply chains.

MITThe lead team believes that overall optimization of the electricity and hydrogen supply chain infrastructure will help reduce emissions and infrastructure costs.

Governments and companies around the world are increasing their investment in hydrogen research and development, raising awareness that hydrogen may play an important role in achieving the decarbonization goals of the global energy system. Indicates that you are. Because hydrogen is light, has a high energy density, is storable, and does not emit carbon dioxide directly during use, this versatile energy carrier has the potential to be used in a variety of ways in future clean energy systems.

Hydrogen, often considered in the context of grid-scale energy storage, has gained new interest due to the expectation that future power grids will be dominated by variable renewable energy (VRE) sources such as wind and solar, and cost savings. I am. For water electrolyzers — both can make clean, “green” hydrogen cost-competitive compared to fossil fuel-based production. However, the diversity of hydrogen as a clean energy fuel is also an attractive option to meet energy demand and pave the way for decarbonization in difficult-to-decay sectors such as transportation, buildings and industry where direct electrification is difficult. Become.

“We have seen a lot of progress and analysis on the pathways for decarbonizing electricity, but it may not be possible to electrify all end applications. This decarbonizes the power supply. It means that it is not enough to just make it, and other decarbonization strategies need to be developed, “said Dharik Mallapragada, a research scientist at the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI). “Hydrogen is an interesting energy carrier to explore, but understanding the role of hydrogen requires studying the interactions between power systems and future hydrogen supply chains.”

In a recent paper published in a journal Energy and environmental science, MIT and Shell researchers systematically study the role and impact of hydrogen-based technology pathways in future low-carbon integrated energy systems, taking into account interactions with the power grid and spatiotemporal fluctuations in energy demand. Presenting and supplying a framework for. The developed framework optimizes investment and operation of infrastructure throughout the electricity and hydrogen supply chain under a variety of emission price scenarios. When applied to a case study in the northeastern United States, researchers found that this approach leveraged the potential of hydrogen to provide a large and flexible load on power systems when generated by electrolysis, thus reducing costs and emissions. We have found that it offers substantial benefits in terms of points. It also enables decarbonization of end-use sectors, which are difficult to electrify.

The research team includes Mallapragada. MITEI postdoc, Guannan He. Abhishek Bose; Clara Heuberger, MITEI’s Graduate Research Assistant-Austin, Shell researcher. Emre Gençer, a research scientist at MITEI.Their findings are published in the journal Energy and environmental science..

Cross-sector modeling

“To really understand the costs / benefits of direct electrification and other decarbonization strategies, we need a cross-sector framework to analyze the economics and roles of each energy carrier across multiple systems,” he says. ..

To do that analysis, the team has developed a Low Carbon Power Decision Optimization-Hydrogen Network (DOLPHYN) model. This allows users to study the role of hydrogen in low-carbon energy systems and the impact of the binding of the power and hydrogen sectors. , And trade-offs between various technology options across both supply chains — across production, transportation, storage, and end-use, their impact on decarbonization goals.

“We are receiving a lot of attention from the industry and government because they are all asking where to invest money and how to prioritize decarbonization strategies.” Gençer says. Heuberger-Austin adds: “Ability to assess system-level interactions between electricity and the new hydrogen economy is paramount to driving technological development and supporting strategic value chain decisions. The DOLPHYN model is a question of this kind. Helps you work on. “

For a predefined set of power and hydrogen demand scenarios, the model determines the lowest cost technology mix across the power and hydrogen sectors, while adhering to various operational and policy constraints. The model can incorporate a variety of technical options, from VRE production to carbon capture and storage (CCS) used to produce both electricity and hydrogen, to trucks and pipelines used to transport hydrogen. Due to its flexible construction, the models represent new technology options and can be easily adapted to assess their long-term value to the energy system.

As an important addition, this model takes process-level carbon emissions into account by allowing users to add cost penalties to emissions in both sectors. “If you have a limited emission budget, you can investigate the question of where to prioritize limited emissions to get the best value from a decarbonization perspective,” says Malapragada. ..

Insights from case studies

To test their model, researchers investigated the energy system in the northeastern United States under a variety of demand, technology, and carbon price scenarios. While those key conclusions can be generalized to other regions, the northeast proved to be a particularly interesting case study. The region has current legislative and regulatory support for renewable energy generation and increasing emission reduction targets, many of which are very stringent. It is also a sector where the demand for energy for heating is high and electrification is difficult, especially the combination of hydrogen and power systems and hydrogen systems.

Researchers have found that combining the power and hydrogen sectors through electrolysis or hydrogen-based generation provides operational flexibility to support VRE integration in the power sector, and alternative grid-balancing supply-side resources such as battery storage. We have found that the need for is reduced. Or dispatchable gas generation. This reduces the cost of the entire system. This increased VRE penetration also leads to reduced emissions compared to scenarios without sector coupling. “The flexibility that electricity-based hydrogen production provides in terms of balancing the grid is just as important as the hydrogen it produces to decarbonize other end applications,” says Malapragada. They found that this type of grid interaction had advantages over traditional hydrogen-based power storage, which could result in additional capital costs and loss of efficiency when returning hydrogen to electricity. .. This suggests that the role of hydrogen in the grid may be more beneficial as a source of flexible demand than as storage.

Researchers’ multi-sector modeling approach also emphasized that CCS is more cost-effective than the power sector when used in the hydrogen supply chain. Contrary to this observation, they say that by the end of the decade, six times more CCS projects will be deployed in the electricity sector than they will use in hydrogen production. This is a fact that emphasizes the need for more cross-sectoral modeling when planning future energies. system.

In this study, researchers found much more about how inclusion of non-combustion greenhouse gas emissions (including methane emissions) from natural gas used for electricity and hydrogen production affects model results. We tested the robustness of the conclusions for the factors. They found that including an upstream emission footprint of natural gas within the model boundaries did not affect the value of sector combination in reducing costs for VRE integration and decarbonization. In fact, the value is actually greater because the focus is on electricity-based hydrogen production rather than natural gas-based pathways.

“You can’t reach your climate goals without taking a holistic approach,” says Gençer. “This is a system problem. Some areas cannot be decarbonized by electrification, while others cannot be decarbonized without carbon capture. All together, synergies that significantly minimize infrastructure costs. Solution. “

Reference: “Sector coupling via Hydrogen to reduce the cost of decarbonization of energy systems “, Guannan He, Dharik S. Mallapragada, Abhishek Bose, Clara F. Heuberger-Austin, Emre Gençer, August 4, 2021 Energy and environmental science..
DOI: 10.1039 / D1EE00627D

The study was partially supported by Shell Global Solutions International BV in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and MITEI’s Power Systems and Low Carbon Energy Center for Carbon Recovery, Utilization, and Storage.

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