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The future energy system and the role of hydrogen

The transition to a sustainable energy supply requires significant adjustments to the current energy system. For the future affordability and reliability of energy supply, it is crucial to make the right decisions in time about when and where to build new infrastructure. What role will hydrogen play in this? And how is TenneT preparing for the growing importance of hydrogen?

The role of hydrogen

The European Green Deal envisages that the future energy supply will be completely climate-neutral by 2050.

To achieve this, we are switching from fossil fuels to sustainable and renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. This means that we will be more dependent on fluctuating energy sources to meet our energy demand. Therefore, it is important that we create solutions for a future reliable, affordable and sustainable energy supply. TenneT is already working on and contributing to these solutions today:

  1. Expand the grid. Expand the grid infrastructure in order to cope with the rising infeed of renewables and in order to meet the rising transport needs.
  2. Exchange between countries. The better exchange of electricity between European countries. Common electricity grids and a European energy market ensure an efficient exchange of electricity across borders and regions.
  3. Flexibility in the system. The incentives for a more flexible energy demand, to stay in balance with the available supply of renewable energy. For example, an industry can temporarily reduce its consumption when the feed-in of renewable energy is low and shift it to other periods.
  4. Conversion. The conversion of electrical energy into gaseous energy carriers such as hydrogen. This enables large consumers such as steel or the chemical industry to be supplied directly with gaseous energy for both energy and feedstock demand.
  5. Storage. The storage of electrical energy in order to use it at another time. Since seasonal, large-scale storage of electricity is not (yet) possible, hydrogen can also play a valuable role here.

Green hydrogen

The role of green hydrogen

Looking at conversion and storage, green hydrogen can play a significant role here. Green hydrogen is an energy carrier produced from renewable electricity. By means of electrolysis, water is split into hydrogen (in gaseous form) and oxygen. This hydrogen can be used directly at its production site or transported to industrial plants through a gas grid or other transportation methods like ships. Alternatively, it can be stored, e.g. in existing salt caverns, for later use. Hydrogen can contribute to security of supply of the electricity system by making the energy supply less dependent on weather and seasonal influences.

TenneT and hydrogen

TenneT and hydrogen: an integrated look is key

The decisions that have to be made to build a hydrogen economy are important for society and therefore also for TenneT. These decisions determine whether electricity grids will be newly built or reinforced and which routes the transmission lines will follow. Since the construction of new power lines costs time and money, as well as has an impact on people and the environment, it is necessary to set the course in a timely manner. By taking an intelligent and integrated look at the energy system of the future, we as a society can develop the most efficient, affordable, safe and sustainable energy system possible. For example, it is more efficient for the energy system to produce the hydrogen at the point of renewable energy generation. After energy conversion, the hydrogen can be transported to the place of demand via a hydrogen gas network (backbone).

TenneT und Wasserstoff

Current commitment to the development of hydrogen

TenneT is actively involved in studies, partnerships and pilot projects.

The aim is to find out what influence a hydrogen economy will have on the future electricity infrastructure and market and how it can contribute to future security of supply of the transmission system. As a driver of the energy transition, TenneT is therefore involved in several initiatives:

For the future affordability and reliability of energy supply, it is crucial to make the right decisions in time about when and where to build new infrastructure. This requires the cooperation of all stakeholders, i.e. between politics, the market parties, industry, science, grid operators and the public. Through these societal debates, we achieve optimal system integration on the path to the sustainable energy system of the future.


No we are not. TenneT has been appointed as an independent planner, builder and operator of the high and extra-high voltage grid. It is stipulated by law that TenneT may not be involved in energy production or consumption. In this respect, TenneT concentrates solely on the electricity transmission infrastructure. Nevertheless, we support the ramp-up of the hydrogen economy. We strive to ensure that the developments fit into the overall energy system as well as possible.

The focus of TenneT's activities is on green hydrogen produced with renewable electricity. Other forms of hydrogen are included in all studies and investigations, but are further removed from TenneT's core business.  Blue hydrogen is produced in the so-called natural gas steam reforming process, i.e. when natural gas is split into hydrogen and CO2. CO2 is not released into the atmosphere, however, but stored directly. 'Turquoise hydrogen' is produced when natural gas is split into hydrogen and solid carbon using methane pyrolysis. 'Grey hydrogen' is obtained by steam reforming fossil fuels such as coal or natural gas.

Yes they could. In the energy system, countries can help each other with the exchange of energy, for example Norwegian hydropower or English wind energy. With the help of strong interconnections, markets can complement and strengthen each other. This certainly contributes to reserve power.