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The #P2X Conference: Will hydrogen pave the way?

Interview with Peter Müller-Baum, Managing Director, VDMA Power-to-X for Applications
Contributed by VDMA

11 September 2023

Climate neutrality is currently an important topic that will continue to garner interest for years to come. The Paris Agreement marked a significant milestone, paving the way for subsequent developments. In shipping, for example, the IMO adopted an updated strategy in early July to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from maritime shipping to zero by around 2050. Climate neutrality in shipping, as in many other sectors, can only be achieved with new developments such as hydrogen and Power-to-X eFuels.

Why hydrogen and P2X?

Peter Müller-Baum: With Power-to-X, it becomes possible to convert electricity into other forms of energy. This energy can be stored in the form of chemical bonds. If the energy comes from renewable sources such as wind and solar, the hydrogen that is produced is called green hydrogen, a great source of hope when it comes to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions as there are no direct CO2 emissions. If hydrogen products such as eFuels, methanol or ammonia are generated by P2X processes and used, for example in combustion engines, they are CO2-neutral. This outlines the great opportunity offered by hydrogen and its derivatives. Hydrogen paves the way to climate neutrality.

How much hydrogen will we need?

PMB: We will need a lot of hydrogen and hydrogen derivatives. For example, Germany wants to build up to 10 gigawatts of electrolysis (approximately 24 TWh/y) capacity by 2030. The hydrogen that can be produced in this way will be enough to cover some 30 to 50 percent of Germany’s hydrogen demand in 2030. Shipping will need almost ten times this amount: more than 90,000 vessels of various sizes ply the world’s oceans, from container ships to tankers and passenger ships to tugs or bunker boats. Fishing vessels are not even included in these statistics. A study recently conducted for the IMO estimates that about 210 TWh of green fuels will be needed in 2030 to supply global shipping. In other words: there is much work to be done, and it will take some time. The sooner we set the right course, the faster the hydrogen economy will ramp up.

What exactly needs to happen now to get the hydrogen economy started?

PMB: A lot needs to be done now, by many different players. We need the right political framework. Legislators together with industry must clarify which requirements are necessary. Incentives will be required to move away from less climate-friendly solutions and encourage investment in low-CO2, CO2-neutral or CO2-free technologies. A price for CO2 emissions would also be very helpful. On the other hand, committing to only one technical solution is not helpful. Investing in education and training helps to ensure that we get the skilled workers we need. Funding research will help bring solutions to market sooner. Public engagement to spread the message that hydrogen is a central part of the solution is also critical. Further discussion about the importance of climate neutrality will hopefully not be needed—only the best way to get there.

Anything else?

PMB: I believe that a close exchange of ideas among experts is crucial. The mechanical engineering sector is ready with many solutions. Many aspects of hydrogen technology have reached market maturity. Mechanical engineering companies are stepping up to conquer and maintain market leadership. Electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar power, which is used to generate green hydrogen, has also become significantly cheaper in recent years.

Projects, ideas and currently implemented solutions must be discussed by professionals. These discussions should include both micro and macro perspectives and assess areas of deficiency as well as potential advancements that might exceed our current expectations. Conferences like From production to application: THE #P2X CONFERENCE are very useful for this. Over the course of two days, the focus will be on very practical issues and challenges on the road to the hydrogen economy.

Will the Conference also discuss economic challenges of eFuels?

PMB: Transportation by ship over long distances is at the heart of the global economy. It can’t be about having less transport by sea, what we want is lower greenhouse gas emissions. eFuels will only be able to hold their own on the market if they also make economic sense. However, the prices for hydrogen and its derivatives are still very high. We are confident, however, that this will change, due to the economy of scale and the fact that the number of suppliers will grow. A real market will develop. On the other hand, if appropriate political measures are taken, such as putting a price on CO2 emissions, the prices of fossil fuels will continue to rise. They will then be much less attractive. We will devote our conference entirely to the technical side and do what we can to ensure that a market can develop, for this is the prerequisite.

Where will hydrogen be used in the future?

PMB: Hydrogen is enormously important for industry. Here, the benefits for the climate are particularly great. In steel production, coke or carbon monoxide has been used as a reducing agent. The associated CO2 emissions can be minimized with a process that works with hydrogen. For the chemical industry, hydrogen is the starting point for many valuable chemicals. The hydrogen derivative ammonia, for example, is the starting material for the synthesis of numerous compounds. It is processed into fertilizers or used to produce plastics and fibers. Ammonia made from green hydrogen could also be traded as a marine fuel. Green methanol can also be produced from hydrogen and used in combustion engines, for example in ships. At the same time, methanol is also an important basic chemical. I am convinced that the steel, chemical and cement industries, as well as heavy goods vehicles and air traffic, will certainly use hydrogen or its derivatives in the future. In many areas, the transformation has already begun.


VDMA Power-to-X for Applications is a cross-industry platform for exchange, communication, and cooperation in the P2X community. It involves all important stakeholders, from the development of manufacturing processes through the production of synthetic fuels and raw materials using power-to-X technologies to the end customer. With its activities, it promotes a holistic and technology-open approach to the transformation of energy systems and raises public awareness of environmentally friendly energy use and mobility.

From production to application: THE #P2X CONFERENCE

The two-day-conference will take place on 14 - 15.11.2023 in Frankfurt/Germany. The focus is on practical and technical challenges arising along the value chain of hydrogen and its downstream products as well as the exchange of ideas and networking. More information is available at www.p2xconference.com

Source: VDMA