Railroad transport of Germany’s hydrogen imports a key component of cost-efficient industry – report

(Clean Energy Wire, 25 Jan 2024) Trains could play a key role in ensuring a comprehensive transport network for distributing imported green hydrogen across Germany, a report by research institute Fraunhofer IEG on the country’s hydrogen supply options has found.

The researchers found that pipelines starting at an import hub are the overall most cost-efficient way for distributing hydrogen to customers connected to the planned core grid, which is assumed to be fully operational no later than 2035. However, ‘smaller users’ that will not yet have access to the grid by that year could be supplied by trains as well as through shipping on inland waterways. “The amount of hydrogen than can be transported in one fully loaded cargo train exceeds the daily demand multiple times at 95 percent of the locations examined in the study,” Fraunhofer IEG said.

A targeted expansion and retrofitting of Germany’s railway network thus must be made part of the country’s hydrogen industry buildout in the next years, the researchers stressed. As rail-based transportation of fossil fuels is expected to decline significantly in the coming years, especially for coal, vacant transport capacity in the extensive railroad network could become especially important in ensuring comprehensive supply security in the hydrogen industry’s early stages. However, the study also found that domestic transportation of green hydrogen will only constitute a small fraction (5 percent) of the total bill for supplying the climate-neutral fuel.

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Clean Energy Wire, 25 Jan 2024: Railroad transport of Germany’s hydrogen imports a key component of cost-efficient industry – report