Never before has so much renewable energy been generated as in 2023. And never before has the task of continuing to accelerate been so significant – we are in the midst of the energy transition. To achieve a CO2-neutral energy supply by 2050, and stabilize atmospheric CO2 concentrations at a 350 ppm level, 30 TW of renewable energy will be needed worldwide. This is roughly equivalent to the output of 30,000 average power plants, each with a capacity of 1 GW. With the new MNEXT professorship in Renewable Energy Carriers, Professor Saleh Mohammadi will conduct research in the coming years on Renewable Energy Carriers through which all this sustainably generated energy is stored, transported, and delivered to the end-users.


Publication date
22 April 2024

“In the professorship, we will primarily focus on energy carriers, not on the sources of energy,” says Saleh. As indicated in the intro, energy carriers make it possible to transport and/or store energy. In the past, we mainly used oil, gas, and coal as carriers to transport energy. Still, a significant part of the energy, 80% of primary energy, is based on traditional carriers derived from fossil fuels. However, we see that electricity as an energy carrier is becoming increasingly important. For example, we use it for residential buildings through heat pumps for heating and cooling, in transportation, and increasingly across a significant portion of the industrial sector. Saleh says, “Using only electricity as an energy carrier poses new challenges. Many industrial processes, such as those in the steel, cement, and chemical sectors, require high-temperature heat, often exceeding the capacities of the current power grid. Just look at the Netherlands, where the grid is already becoming overloaded, and where large scale connections are no longer possible in many regions. Alternative carriers like hydrogen, ammonia or synthetic fuels can more efficiently provide the necessary high-temperature heat.”

Focus on 25%

Recent studies suggest that electricity from renewables can be used for 75% of the energy system. This still leaves a considerable portion for which electricity is not suitable, and the professorship will focus precisely on that 25%. “High-temperature industrial processes, heavy transport, and aviation are well-known examples,” Saleh continues. “For these, energy carriers with high density are needed. Examples of these are liquid hydrogen and ammonia.”

Special attention is given to the possibilities of hydrogen production through electrolysis, a process that converts electrical energy into chemical energy by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. When this electrical energy comes from sustainable sources, we refer to the product as green hydrogen. Imagine, for instance, integrating these electrolysers directly with offshore wind turbines in the North Sea. This could address a pressing current issue: the loss of generated renewable electricity when supply exceeds demand, especially since storing electrical energy presents significant challenges.

Saleh says, “Innovating in the technology, as well as in application and system integration, of so-called PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) electrolysers is high on our wish list. The Netherlands is already strong globally in PEM electrolysis technology, and much of the production chain is already in place. Through practice-oriented research and innovation, we can utilize this potential as best as possible and contribute as a professorship.”

First project already underway

In the coming period, Saleh’s attention will be focused on defining the scope and the research lines of the professorship and assembling a knowledge circle. Some urgency is required because the first research project is already underway! The Renewable Energy Carriers professorship, together with another MNEXT professorship, Smart Energy, has been participating in the world’s largest hydrogen research project: GroenvermogenNL. This project aim to make a substantial contribution to the scaling up of climate-neutral hydrogen and the application of green electrons. Particular areas we are involved include innovation in the PEM electrolysis, the use of green hydrogen in the mobility sector and industry, as well as exploring the techno-economic aspects and social acceptance of hydrogen in society.

Saleh sums it up in three words: “Let’s get started!”

Who is Saleh Mohammadi?

Since December 2023, Saleh has been associated with Avans and MNEXT for 3 days a week as a professor. Additionally, he works two days a week at Witteveen+Bos, an engineering and consulting firm, as a sustainable energy consultant. . He grew up in Iran, and completed his basic education there, where he personally experienced the increasingly dire consequences of climate change. Large lakes disappeared, and entire rivers dried up. This has always motivated him to work on solutions for climate change. At MNEXT, as well as in previous roles at other Dutch universities such as TU Eindhoven and TU Delft, he found a way to do this from his background as a scientist.

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