Holger Grubel, drives a Toyota Mirai

Hydrogen can be used to power a car – so it’s only natural that the offshore wind project manager Holger Grubel should drive one. Because hydrogen is an important option for energy storage when it comes to the expansion of offshore wind power as well.
Usually, Holger Grubel likes to ride his bike to work, but today he was on the road with us. So it’s nice that the trip won’t weigh heavy on his environmental conscience. Because Holger and his family are among those who have made the switch: the family drives a Toyota Mirai powered by hydrogen. “Of course, our biggest contribution to protecting the environment was getting rid of our second car,” says Holger with a smile.
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Produced from renewable energies, hydrogen delivers zero-emissions mobility free of range restrictions and charging times.

Hydrogen cars are still a rarity. There are only 500 on German roads. When Holger and his family decided to go for hydrogen, there were just 300. 41 hydrogen filling stations were available for refuelling across Germany. Today that number is close to 70! “We don’t have to plan so much anymore when we take longer trips. A quick glance at the app is all it takes.” He is referring to the app H2.LIVE, which delivers live, constantly updated information on where you can refuel hydrogen, whether a station is available, and when maintenance shutdowns are scheduled.

Today, we refuel at the station Hamburger HafenCity, a stone’s throw away from his workplace. Holger Grubel locks the coupling to the tank nozzle on the car, clicks it in place, and then presses the green button. The whole refuelling process takes hardly longer than refuelling an ordinary car.

For this family man, hydrogen is much more than just a fuel.

“Without storage there can be no energy transition,” says Holger with conviction. “If we are going to bank on volatile energy production – and wind and sun are volatile – then we need to use storage to balance production with consumption.” When dealing with offshore, where the wind blows more reliably, another component is added into the mix: hydrogen is easily transported. So why not produce hydrogen far from land and bring it ashore?

“Offshore wind farms without electricity hook-ups don’t put any strain on the grid! With hydrogen, we no longer have to wait for the expensive and costly expansion of the grid! On land, the hydrogen can then be used in a variety of ways – fed into the natural gas grid, it reduces CO2 emissions in the heat supply, in fuel-cell cars it literally provides a tailwind, and reconverted into electricity, it can compensate for calm or cloudy days.”

Offshore Wind Power Facts & Figures:

Offshore wind power refers to the production of electricity on the high seas. Its biggest advantage over land-based wind energy or photovoltaics is the higher and more constant wind speed and thus higher reliability – wind power can be harvested here more than 99% of the year. Offshore allows for larger dimensions, because nobody here suffers from shading or noise emissions. The 5 MW alpha ventus turbines installed in Germany’s first offshore wind farm in 2008 already had rotor diameters of up to 125 metres and a total height of more than 170 metres above sea level. Newer 6 MW turbines have rotor diameters of around 150 meters – so each of their rotor blades is longer than the entire wingspan of an Airbus A380. And the industry is already planning next-generation turbines with more than 10 MW output and blade lengths of 100 m and more!

Wind farms in Germany 2018:

In all, 29,844 wind turbines with a total output of approximately 59,200 MW
– Of these, 1169 turbines with 6200 MW are offshore
A total capacity of 15,000 MW offshore is planned by 2030 – this will enable the supply of clean electricity to as many as 15 million households

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