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When representatives of 168 governments met in Abu Dhabi in mid-January for the 13th General Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), a project from North Friesland was also in the spotlight: the sustainable hydrogen mobility project eFarm initiated by GP JOULE. The eFarm in question is part of the IRENA report "Sector coupling: A key concept for accelerating the energy transformation", which was just presented at the plenary meeting - as one of five outstanding examples of sector coupling in practice worldwide.

Award-winning efficiency

eFarm is a hydrogen interconnection project in which surplus electricity from wind turbines is converted into green hydrogen in on-site electrolysers. While this hydrogen is delivered to appropriately equipped vehicles at two regional filling stations - among other things, two buses in local public transport are operated emission-free in this way - the waste heat generated during electrolysis at the production site in Bosbüll is fed into a local heating network. The efficiency of the electrolysis is thus raised to an impressive 95 percent. A fact that has already earned GP JOULE the German Mobility Award 2022.

100 percent renewable energies for all

Now IRENA, an international governmental organisation for the worldwide promotion and sustainable use of renewable energies, has also taken notice of the project. The organisation was founded in Bonn in 2009 and has 168 members including the European Union. The introduction to the above-mentioned IRENA Report 2023 explains why sector coupling is of such enormous importance. It says: "Policies and technologies for sector coupling have the potential to increase the flexibility of energy systems and thereby integrate a higher share of renewable energies." A goal, then, that is largely in line with the GP JOULE postulated intention of making 100 per cent renewable energy available to all.

The proximity factor brings decisive advantage

Ove Petersen, CEO and co-founder of GP JOULE, explains the eFarm approach as follows: "Crucial to the effectiveness of the energy system is when and where the hydrogen is produced. On-site generation can use electricity that would otherwise be curtailed because it cannot be transported away via the grid. Electrolysis close to wind and solar power plants therefore relieves the strain on the grids, reduces ancillary grid costs for all consumers and ensures that much more renewable energy generation can be integrated into the system. If electrolysis then also uses waste heat, the whole thing is highly efficient."

Regional participation

GP JOULE has been operating eFARM since 2021 and sees it not only as an example for the integration of renewable energies into the energy system and for the decarbonisation of the transport sector - it is also a model for regional participation in the energy transition: 20 shareholders from the region are involved in eFarm, including citizen wind farms, which in turn involve several thousand citizens. It is thus virtually a prime example of the regional energy transition - and a blueprint for sector coupling, which IRENA has now taken up and presented to the world.