Hydrogen on the rise: how will Germany’s gas infrastructure be impacted?

While natural gas from fossil sources will increasingly lose importance over time, hydrogen is very likely to gain importance – but what are the implications for the existing gas infrastructure?

Frontier, in co-operation with Emcel and ETR, has been commissioned by E.ON SE – one of Germany’s leading distribution system operators (DSOs) – to find out which changes gaseous energy carriers will be likely to face in the coming years and the implications of these changes for the existing regional gas infrastructure.

In particular, there are two opposing trends playing an important role here: Conventional natural gas is a fossil energy carrier and will as such decrease in importance in a defossilised economy. This means that there will be less demand for conventional natural gas and its distribution in future. However, there are numerous studies and forecasts proving that, even in a world with nearly 100% renewable energy sources, gaseous energy carriers such as hydrogen or biogas will still be playing an important role. In our study, we have analysed the most important questions that transmission system operators (TSOs) and DSOs will be facing.

  • Defossilisation targets are ambitious – What impact will they have on the demand potential for gaseous energy carriers from households, BCS, industry and transport?
  • What is Germany’s supply potential for renewable gaseous energy carriers such as hydrogen, synthetic methane (SNG) and biomethane? And what role does the new European hydrogen infrastructure („European Hydrogen Backbone“) play here?
  • What can be derived from the regional comparison of supply and demand potentials and from the expected changes in these potentials, compared to today’s situation? And what are the implications for the gas infrastructure?
  • What role does biogas or biomethane, respectively, play in Germany – and how can it be integrated into the new green gas infrastructure?

To answer these questions, we have modelled potential trends for demand and supply situations from today up to the year 2045. The modelling was based on trends for both natural gas and renewable gases (mainly hydrogen, synthetic methane, biomethane), differentiated by regions (at county level) and sectors (households, BCS, industry, transport and transformation deployment).

New infrastructure announced

Recently, E.ON has specified its infrastructure transformation plans and announced the introduction of a hydrogen infrastructure in the Ruhr region („H2.Ruhr“). E.ON plans to use this infrastructure to provide communal, medium-sized and industry customers in the region with green hydrogen and ammoniak.

Frontier regularly advises on the hydrogen and the energy transition.

For more information, please contact us on media@frontier-economics.com or at  +44 (0) 20 7031 7000.