‘Green hydrogen’ from renewables could become cheapest ‘transformative fuel’ within a decade.
Green hydrogen, which is mainly produced by water electrolysis using renewable electricity, is one of the levers that will speed up the transition to a carbon neutral future: development of green mobility, decarbonisation of large-scale industrial uses of hydrogen (fertilisers, refineries, chemicals, etc.), improved integration of intermittent renewable energies into the energy system, massive storage of the surplus electricity generated.
Usable in addition to all green energies to satisfy and decarbonise many uses, hydrogen can become the pillar of 100% renewable regions.
Green hydrogen – an essential component of the energy mix:
- store energy and make it available when renewables are not producing electricity
- develop more sustainable forms of mobility
- decarbonise industrial uses
What is the current status of green hydrogen?
According to data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), it is expected that, by 2050, 6% of final energy consumption in the world may be related to hydrogen, which, unlike other fuels with a strong impact on our planet, guarantees a very high energy capacity. Consider that, for equal weight, hydrogen has almost three times the energy content of natural gas and its combustion does not imply any CO2 emissions, since it only generates water vapor.
Hydrogen has a wide range of possible applications. Not only can it be used as a ‘clean’ fuel, it can also fuel the growth of renewable energy. And it is that a solar or wind power plant coupled to an electrolyzer can provide network services similar to those of a renewable power plant combined with a battery. As renewables expand their penetration, flexible generation will be necessary, and a renewable plant coupled to an electrolyzer is much more flexible than a stand-alone plant, in addition to producing hydrogen.
Although it is not an alternative to electrification, which is still the cheapest and easiest way to decarbonise large percentages of total final energy consumption, green hydrogen is a complement to this process, one of the most promising, profitable and efficient energy solutions. to reduce emissions from hard-to-abate sectors. And to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, it will be the decarbonisation of sectors that depend on the use of fossil fuels that will really make the difference.
In addition, if produced domestically, green hydrogen can reduce a country’s dependence on fossil fuel imports and, with the creation of a new value chain, positive social consequences can be produced thanks to the increase in new ones. employment opportunities.
However, there are many questions that arise in relation to the large amount of energy required for the production of renewable hydrogen, the availability of large storage technologies or the high costs of transport. But the spread of renewable energies, the increase in the production of electrolyzers and the corresponding economies of scale, possible, among other things, thanks to technological evolution, could lay the foundations for this element that will be very competitive already in 5 years.
Where hydrogen use makes sense
Hydrogen fuel doesn’t make sense for every energy application, but it can be used in some logical scenarios relatively quickly. The best scenario for hydrogen fuel is storing energy from renewable energy sources for use at a later time. Grid-connected fuel cells are already in-service and manufacturers like Bloom Energy are building more every day.
Transportation is another high-potential market for hydrogen and fuel cells. Long-haul trucking is an application where fuel cells makes sense and Nikola Motors is one of the companies building trucks for this market. Bloom Energy recently announced a deal with Samsung Heavy Industries to develop fuel cell-powered ships. The deal could lead to 300 megawatts annually in ship demand. And this could be a simple and economical replacement for fossil fuels in maritime transportation — especially if it’s cheaper than fossil fuels for shipping companies.
Hydrogen could change everything
Few energy innovations have an opportunity to upend the entire energy industry, but hydrogen could facilitate just that. It could make wind and solar more viable as year-round sources of energy, using hydrogen as a storage medium. Hydrogen could be used to make long-haul trucking and shipping fully clean. It could essentially replace fossil fuels as an energy medium.
- Bloom Energy (NYSE:BE)
- FuelCell Energy (NASDAQ:FCEL)
- Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG)
- Ballard Power Systems (NASDAQ:BLDP)