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Power-to-Gas: Electrolyzers as an alternative to network expansion – An example from a distribution system operator


  • Robinius, Martin
  • Raje, Tanmay
  • Nykamp, Stefan
  • Rott, Tobias
  • Müller, Martin
  • Grube, Thomas
  • Katzenbach, Burkhard
  • Küppers, Stefan
  • Stolten, Detlef


The high share of fluctuating renewable energy sources (FRES) such as wind and photovoltaic (PV) necessitates the need for controllable generation, storage devices or adjustable consumption, due to the surplus arising from installed capacity that exceeds the conventional electrical load. The use of this surplus to produce hydrogen and oxygen via electrolysis is called “Power-to-Gas” (P2G). This study investigates the potential use of electrolyzers in the electrical distribution grid as an alternative to a network expansion with cables. For this purpose, an existing distribution grid was modelled and the possible size of an electrolyzer investigated so as to achieve the same effect as with an electrical cable in terms of, for example, the voltage level. The investment cost of both possibilities was compared and the hydrogen production costs analyzed. The results show that laying a cable is currently a more cost-effective option in comparison to an electrolyzer, costing around 30% of the overall investment required for the electrolyzer. The remaining 70% of the electrolyzer cost needs to be met by other means, for example by selling the hydrogen produced. However, profitability is highly dependent on the surplus in the grid and thus the full load hours of the electrolyzer. Furthermore, the results obtained cannot be generalized, since they are highly influenced by the scenario used.

Suggested Citation

  • Robinius, Martin & Raje, Tanmay & Nykamp, Stefan & Rott, Tobias & Müller, Martin & Grube, Thomas & Katzenbach, Burkhard & Küppers, Stefan & Stolten, Detlef, 2018. "Power-to-Gas: Electrolyzers as an alternative to network expansion – An example from a distribution system operator," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 210(C), pages 182-197.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:appene:v:210:y:2018:i:c:p:182-197
    DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2017.10.117

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Kaya, Mehmet Fatih & Demir, Nesrin & Rees, Neil V. & El-Kharouf, Ahmad, 2020. "Improving PEM water electrolyser’s performance by magnetic field application," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 264(C).
    7. Brown, T. & Schlachtberger, D. & Kies, A. & Schramm, S. & Greiner, M., 2018. "Synergies of sector coupling and transmission reinforcement in a cost-optimised, highly renewable European energy system," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 160(C), pages 720-739.
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    11. Frank, Elimar & Gorre, Jachin & Ruoss, Fabian & Friedl, Markus J., 2018. "Calculation and analysis of efficiencies and annual performances of Power-to-Gas systems," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 218(C), pages 217-231.
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    14. Pavičević, Matija & Mangipinto, Andrea & Nijs, Wouter & Lombardi, Francesco & Kavvadias, Konstantinos & Jiménez Navarro, Juan Pablo & Colombo, Emanuela & Quoilin, Sylvain, 2020. "The potential of sector coupling in future European energy systems: Soft linking between the Dispa-SET and JRC-EU-TIMES models," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 267(C).
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    16. Furat Dawood & GM Shafiullah & Martin Anda, 2020. "Stand-Alone Microgrid with 100% Renewable Energy: A Case Study with Hybrid Solar PV-Battery-Hydrogen," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(5), pages 1-17, March.
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