EnDaSpace PLATON – Platform Economy in the Hydrogen Sector

Hydrogen as a Central Element of a Sustainable Economic System

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To achieve the climate goals of the Paris Agreement we must substantially eliminate fossil energy sources from our global economic system. For example, instead of using oil or gas for heating, mobility or electricity generation, a regenerative energy system needs to be established.

However, there is a wide variety of applications that is difficult to be operated electrically because they consume too much energy, such as high-temperature processes in the manufacturing industry or heavy duty engines used in aviation, shipping or heavy goods transport. Even in the future most of these applications will rely on e-fuels.

Here, climate-neutrally produced hydrogen becomes the crucial link that covers both requirements: meet the kind of energy needs of these applications and transform them into a sustainable economic system due to its own regenerative production.

Thus, hydrogen will help, not only to selectively avoid greenhouse gas emissions, but especially to transform our conventional system into a truly sustainable one.

Digital Technologies Are Important for the Success of a Green Hydrogen Economy

Digital technologies and platforms play an important role in this transformation process: they become enabler and integral part of a green hydrogen economy. As in various economic sectors before, digital platforms are able to link previously separate actors, enable the exchange or sharing of data and increase the efficiency of the system.

Without using digital technologies and sharing data, the production of green hydrogen through water electrolysis is expensive and hard to organize, as the generation of electricity from renewable energies stays unstable. This complicates the process, as a wide variety of actors has to be involved. Plus: an efficient exchange of data between these actors must be ensured. For example, operators of hydrogen production plants need to know at any time what quantities of renewable electricity are available. Here, data and platform-based solutions can set the decisive course.

Platform Economy in the Hydrogen Economy – Connecting Actors and Deriving Business Models

This is where the »EnDaSpace PLATON« research project comes in. The projects aims to explore how a digital platform must look like to link actors efficiently and how business models should be designed to secure long-term profitability.

In the technological sub-project »EnDaSpace« (Energy Data Space) the technical infrastructure for the production of green hydrogen is created, based on renewable wind energy. The associated sub-project »PLATON« (Platform Economy in the Application Context of Hydrogen) will build on this and deal with the central issues of a platform economy in hydrogen industries.  

The Technological Basis: A Digital Platform with First Application Examples

By developing the technical infrastructure for coupling a wind turbine and a hydrogen electrolyser, the participating technological Fraunhofer institutes ISST, IEE, IOSB-INA, ISOB-AST and IWES have created a demonstrator that can be used to test the functionality of various data-driven applications. The digital platform is based on the open, cloud-based FIWARE technology. It is fed with both operating data and further relevant data provided by the wind turbine and the hydrogen electrolyser, using Industrial Data Space (IDS) connectors. For the beginning, two pilot applications have been implemented: a use case dealing with anomaly detection and another one focusing on data-based operation management.

From a Customer's and Provider´s point of view: Analysis of the Advantages and Requirements of Digital Platforms in the Hydrogen Economy

The project informs about opportunities of such platform-based business models in the hydrogen environment, independently of these two example applications. To do so, two levels of analyses were carried out:

1. Analysis of Platform-Based Business Models in the Context of Renewable Energy

Three Fraunhofer Institutes (Fraunhofer IAO, Fraunhofer IIS and Fraunhofer IMW) analyzed existing data-based and platform-based business models in the renewable energy industry to uncover business model patterns, such as different value propositions, value creation options and value capture mechanisms.

2. Systematic Description of Typical Use Cases in the Hydrogen Economy

At the same time, a schematic overview has been developed. Based on scientific literature, it describes a set of different use cases for the hydrogen economy and offers robust statements concerning central issues like related ecosystems and data management processes, existing business models and technologies employed.


Future Challenges

This approach enabled the experts to identify white spots that still exist in the digital world of green hydrogen. Furthermore, the experts developed future scenarios that provides insights in the transformation of the industry structure and where digital platforms add value (i.e. generation of renewable energies, production, storage and transport of hydrogen as well as hydrogen utilization). Finally, the results helped to derive relevant implications for the existing technological sub-project »EnDaSpace« and clarify what kind of applications should be developed in the future.

Project partner

  • Fraunhofer IIS
  • Fraunhofer IMW
  • Fraunhofer IAO
  • Fraunhofer ISST
  • Fraunhofer IEE
  • Fraunhofer IOSB-INA
  • Fraunhofer ISOB-AST
  • Fraunhofer IWES

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