Recent years have seen a massive shift to hydrogen in politics and industry: Political decision-makers around the world are recognizing the central role of hydrogen in the fight against climate change while setting national targets and building international partnerships. Experts around the world associate hydrogen with the hope of adding more flexibility to our energy system, while reducing dependence on a diminishing supply of fossil resources. The innovations and technological breakthroughs in green hydrogen are expected to help humankind reach climate protection targets and live more sustainably as societies.
This chemical element indeed offers manifold capabilities: Besides being a versatile energy source, hydrogen can be used for example as an energy carrier, as an option for storing enormous amounts of energy, or as fuel for vehicles. Used, for example, in a fuel cell, it emits only water vapor and warm air. However, while many tech companies are working to solve the various challenges related to hydrogen technology, the key is to use green hydrogen, produced both with renewable energy and at affordable costs. The rapid acceleration of renewable energy generation and massive build-up of electrolysis capacities are therefore prerequisites for a truly sustainable hydrogen economy. Infineon stands ready to support this transformation.
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Diverse fields of applications for green hydrogen
In many industries with a particularly high level of energy consumption, such as metallurgy, cement or heating, green hydrogen is expected to replace fossil fuel on a large scale. The same is true for the chemical sector (e.g. synthesis of plastics) and agriculture (e.g. fertilizers), which will use hydrogen in large quantities. Using fuel cell hydrogen is also expected to be crucial for decarbonization in the transportation sector, for example for railways, trucks or ships. And in the area of energy production, renewable energies such as solar and wind power are expanding massively. But their production is dependent on daylight and weather conditions, which is why options for large-scale energy storage using hydrogen as a storage medium are also becoming increasingly important. In all these areas, energy efficiency is the key, meaning that as little energy as possible should be lost during conversion or transmission thanks to semiconductor solutions.
The combination of renewable energy and efficient power semiconductors from Infineon is a key lever in the large-scale production of green hydrogen. This is why Infineon is playing a decisive role in shaping the development of a green hydrogen economy – wherever technological challenges need to be mastered along the way. The core question is: What meaningful technical contributions can make to help the transformation to a decarbonized society using green hydrogen a success?
As a leading manufacturer of power semiconductors for wind power and photovoltaic inverters, Infineon enables electricity generation from renewable energies, which is key to the production of green hydrogen.
The industrial production of green hydrogen on a large scale is only possible with power semiconductors: They enable electrolysis technology, a major way to produce hydrogen by decomposing water into its basic components. Here the synthesis of renewable energy and Infineon’s efficient power semiconductors provides significant leverage, because the electrolysis process for the production of green hydrogen requires very strong direct currents (DCs). This means that the alternating current (AC) from the power grid must first be converted into DC with the help of Infineon’s high-power semiconductors. Several synchronized high-power switches permit a combined system performance of over 50 megawatts.
Infineon power semiconductors facilitate energy-efficient delivery by efficiently converting alternating current (AC) supplied by the power grid into direct current (DC), or by adjusting direct current from solar plants that are coupled with electrolysis plants. This way Infineon power semiconductors not only increase the amount of energy that can be harvested for example from solar arrays, they also help minimize energy loss during transmission.
Infineon’s solutions enable the energy-efficient use of green hydrogen for example in the fields of mobility and transportation. Here our components are key to monitoring the process chain from energy generation in the fuel cells to energy conversion in the drive motor, and - in the event of hazards like gas leaks, short circuits, thermal runaway - shifting the system to a safe state. For this purpose, Infineon offers the necessary sensors (gas, pressure, current, speed), special ICs for monitoring battery and fuel cells, and a broad portfolio of automotive microcontrollers specially developed for safety-critical real-time applications.
As in most aspects of our modern life, ubiquitous connectivity plays a vital role in all areas of green hydrogen production, transmission and consumption. Infineon semiconductors for wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth® are the backbone of many ultra-low power connectivity solutions enabling maximum safety and state-of-the-art, interoperable communication services using only minimum energy.
Hydrogen technology in transportation to meet CO2 reduction targets
Transportation is a key sector in terms of meeting overall CO2 reduction targets. As the market leader in automotive semiconductors, Infineon is a key enabler of electric vehicles and already supports the automotive industry on its path to zero-carbon mobility. Both battery electric vehicles and hydrogen-based fuel-cell electric driveswill be needed to achieve decarbonization across different transportation types. The first hydrogen-powered passenger trains are already on the tracks in Europe and we will soon also see hydrogen in commercial vehicles, such as trucks, complementing electric drives. In general, the hydrogen-based fuel cell drive will most likely be the preferred option for heavier loads and longer distances, while battery electric drives will become the predominant solution for light commercial and passenger vehicles with ranges of up to 400 km.
Onsite production of green hydrogen at Infineon’s Villach site
Industries still need to solve key challenges in the areas of green hydrogen production, storage, transport and use in order to exploit the full potential of hydrogen and achieve net-zero energy efficiency. The first challenge is certainly the significant expansion of renewable energy generation, which provides the basis for green hydrogen production. In addition, a massive infrastructure with enormous electrolysis capacities will be needed to turn green electricity into hydrogen.
Accordingly Infineon is committed to reach carbon-neutrality by 2030 and is on track to do so with green hydrogen coming into play in the semiconductor industry itself. Chip production requires hydrogen as both a carrier and process gas, so the growing demand for chips means the demand for high-purity hydrogen is increasing, too. Consequently Infineon will join forces with Linde to build the first electrolysis plant for the onsite production of green hydrogen in the semiconductor industry at the Infineon production site in Villach, Austria.