Future Energy Management: Hydrogen and Hydropower


Hydropower plants, especially pumped storage power stations, are absolutely necessary pillars of the power supply of the future.

"VERBUND as hydropower group also points out that new and/or modernized hydropower plants will be needed in Austria in the medium term to comply with the E.U. directive ‘Renewable Energy’ and meet the Kyoto guidelines”, said Dr. Herbert Schröfelbauer, Chairman of the VERBUND Research Management Board on the occasion of this year’s first research forum of VERBUND, Austria’s leading electricity company, at the Vienna Museum of Technology last Wednesday.

“Energy in the 21st Century: The Limits of Man and Technology” was the subject of the VERBUND research forum, which was also inspired by the E.U. research project VLEEM (Very Long Term Energy and Environmental Modelling).

“Hydrogen management will without doubt play a central role in all conceivable scenarios of future energy supply. Therefore, increased attention should be given to it, especially when it comes to medium-term storage and long-distance transportation of energy for 3000 kilometres and more”, said Dr.-Ing. Albrecht Reuter and Dr. Hubert Reisinger of the VERBUND engineering subsidiary VERBUNDplan in their presentations. Transport requirements between the central power generation plants and the end users as well as storage requirements for balancing fluctuations in demand and intermittent or constant generation will increase.

According to Mr. Reuter and Mr. Reisinger in addition to an intensified extension of electricity transmission networks and full usage of the pumped storage potential especially hydrogen systems, decentralized energy conversion plants and efficient end user technologies are likely to complement the energy system of the future. From the Austrian point of view it can be said today that investments particularly in the area of pumped storage power stations should be looked into more closely.

As signalized by the first results of VLEEM the technical organization of the systems can vary considerably, said Dr. Thomas Hamacher from the Max Planck Institute in Garching. The analysis focuses on technical constraints and the expected interplay of different technologies, i.e. which primary energy source manages best with which secondary energy source and with which final energy. The complete spectrum of possible primary energy sources, from nuclear to fossil to renewable, was admitted. The most important aspect was to formulate criteria that are in accordance with a sustainable development of the energy system for the year 2100.

Univ.-Prof. Nebosja Nakicenovic from the Institute for Electrical Plants and Energy Management at the Vienna University of Technology at first touched on the development to date. We know today that much more fossil energy is available than was generally expected a few decades ago. Also, the efficiency in the energy application was increased considerably.

According to professor Nakicenovic technological change has contributed decisively to the two changes in trend mentioned above, and new technologies will be of decisive importance also in the future development of the energy system. It is not so much the squeeze of fossil energy resources that will determine the future of the energy system but rather human skill in investing in new technologies and infrastructures and meeting the challenges of environmental protection.