Green Hydrogen is becoming more mainstream

One of the main worries on consumers’ minds today, and a massive contributor to the current inflation crisis, is the energy shortage we are facing globally.

If we add that to a growing environmental consciousness, it’s not surprising that discussions around cleaner, renewable, alternative energy sources have been gaining a lot of traction in the last few years.
Green hydrogen is one of the most promising options that has been getting a lot of attention lately.

With the global hydrogen market expected to be worth $1 trillion a year by 2050, it’s definitely an exciting time to be involved in green hydrogen production.

What is green hydrogen?

Hydrogen is the simplest and most abundant element in the universe, and it’s also very light, making it an ideal fuel source.

 

Hydrogen renewable energy production pipeline.

 

However, pure hydrogen gas is very scarce on Earth, so most of the time, it has to be produced from other materials.

There are a few methods of producing hydrogen, and the most common up to now was to create it via steam methane reforming (SMR).

This process involves taking methane (natural gas) and reacting it with high-temperature steam to produce hydrogen.

This method of hydrogen production, known as grey hydrogen because of the carbon dioxide emissions it produces, is responsible for around 95% of the hydrogen produced globally and is the cheapest way of producing the gas today.

However, the problem with this method is that it’s very energy intensive and emits a lot of carbon dioxide (CO2). This means that it’s not a very sustainable or environmentally friendly option.
That’s where green hydrogen comes in.
Green hydrogen is produced via electrolysis, which is a process of using electricity to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen can then be burned as an energy source to produce power.

This method is much cleaner and more sustainable, as it doesn’t generate any carbon emissions directly, only water vapor.

The potential downside for green hydrogen is that it depends on electricity, which still comes from polluting sources in many parts of the world.

However, this is changing as renewable energy sources like solar and wind power are getting more and more popular.

 

Detail of a hydrogen fuel cell.

 

What are the benefits of green hydrogen?

There are many potential benefits of using green hydrogen as a fuel source; here are some of them.
Green hydrogen is a clean and sustainable fuel source that doesn’t produce any emissions when used. This means that it could help to reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and be an ally in the fight against climate change.

Green hydrogen is also very versatile. It can be used in a variety of ways, including in fuel cells to generate electricity, in internal combustion engines, to power household appliances, and in many industrial processes.

It can be stored and transported easily, making it a viable option for long-distance travel. The cost of green hydrogen is currently higher than other options like natural gas, the price is expected to fall as technology improves and production increases, which would make it a reliable and abundant energy source.

With all of these potential benefits, it’s not surprising that green hydrogen is getting a lot of attention as a possible solution to our energy crisis.

Plans for green hydrogen production in Europe

Many countries and companies around the world are investing in green hydrogen production. From small-scale projects to large-scale initiatives financed by governments, there is a lot of interest in this clean and sustainable energy source, and the investment in it is growing.

Europe has been a leader in the search for alternatives to fossil fuels, and green hydrogen is high on the agenda.

Today, the crisis with Russia and the invasion of Ukraine has made the need for alternatives to Russian gas even more urgent. Green hydrogen is seen as a key way to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian exports.

 

Green Hydrogen concept.

 

EU’s goal of decarbonizing the economy

The EU has ambitious goals of decarbonizing the economy, and green hydrogen is a key part of this plan. The region has set a target to produce 10 million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2030 and import a further 10 million tonnes.

This will help to meet the EU climate goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 55% in 2030 and reaching its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

The EU has also set up a ‘European Clean Hydrogen Alliance,’ a group of companies, research institutions, and organizations from all parts of the hydrogen value change that are working together to promote the development of hydrogen technologies. [1]

Spain

Spain’s location in the South of Europe makes it the perfect place for renewable energy. Indeed, over the last few years, the country has become one of the world leaders in solar and wind power. Now, the Spanish government is turning its attention to green hydrogen as a renewable energy source.

After a €150 million investment in a plant in Puertollano, the country could soon have the biggest green hydrogen production facility in Europe. When it’s up and running, the plant will be able to produce 3,000 tonnes of green hydrogen. [2]

Scotland

The port of Felixstowe is the UK’s largest container port, welcoming over 3,000 ships per year. Now, the port is being transformed into a ‘hydrogen hub’ with the construction of a major green hydrogen production facility.

The plant, run by ScottishPower, will produce 100MW of green hydrogen energy, or 40 tonnes per day. The company aims to receive funding from the government to support the project via the UK’s Net Zero Hydrogen Fund, which will have an estimated cost between $122 million and $183 million and be up and running in 2026. [3]

Plans for green hydrogen production globally

It’s not just Europe that is investing in green hydrogen. Many other countries are looking at this clean energy source to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and meet their climate goals.

Here are some of the current plans in place to produce green hydrogen on a large scale in other regions:

Canada

This August, Canada signed an agreement with Germany to collaborate on the development of green hydrogen. The agreement includes plans to build a green hydrogen production plant in Newfoundland in Canada. This region is ideal for generating clean energy as it’s sparsely populated and receives high levels of wind all year round.

The plant will be able to supply Germany with large quantities of green hydrogen as part of its plan to decrease reliance on Russian gas, starting in 2025. [4]

Namibia

The African continent is another region with ideal conditions for developing renewable energies, so it’s a perfect candidate to host green hydrogen facilities. Namibia has its eye on becoming a world leader in green hydrogen and an export hub and has announced plans to build three separate green hydrogen facilities.

It’s an ambitious goal in a country where only 56% of the population has access to electricity today, but one that, given the natural resources available, could produce the world’s cheapest green hydrogen in the near future.

Through a joint venture between the Namibian government and Enertag, a German renewable energy company, the plans are to start producing 125,000 tonnes of green hydrogen by 2026 and up to 300,000 annually by 2030. [5]

Brazil

Another world leader in the use of renewable energies, mainly through hydropower and sugarcane. Brazil has already started construction on what they hope will be the world’s largest green hydrogen production facility.

The plant will be built in Bahia by Brazilian chemical giant Unigel, with an estimated cost of $120 million. The first phase of production will be completed in 2023 and should have an estimated capacity of 10,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year, as well as 60,000 tonnes of green ammonia. [6]

Chile

Also within South America, another country with almost limitless potential for green hydrogen production, thanks to its high levels of solar and wind energy, Chile has plans to build several large-scale production facilities.

The government has already announced that they aim to have 5 GW of installed capacity by 2025. This would make Chile one of the world’s leading producers of green hydrogen and potentially one of the most cost-effective.

China

As one of the world’s largest carbon emitters, China is also looking for ways to clean up its energy sources and meet its climate goals. The country has more than 120 green hydrogen plans under development in different regions.

The China Hydrogen Alliance estimates that the country’s demand will go from 20 million tonnes per year today to 35 million tonnes by 2030 and reach 60 million tonnes by 2050. [7]

The world is quickly moving towards a future where green hydrogen will play a major role in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Many countries in Europe are investing in large-scale production facilities, but other regions of the world are not far behind, with plans to build their own plants in the coming years or already well underway.

This shift towards clean energy is good news for the environment and could help us meet our climate goals. It’s also an exciting time for the economy, as this new industry is expected to create millions of jobs worldwide.

 

Sources

[1]: https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Green-Hydrogen-Is-Gaining-Traction-Across-The-Globe.html
[2]: https://www.ft.com/content/fe9086de-61e7-4d37-9b8c-56f6eaa0c950
[3]: https://www.scottishpower.com/news/pages/scottishpower_vision_for_green_hydrogen_fuels_hub_at_port_of_felixstowe.aspx#:~:text=ScottishPower%20explores%20green%20hydrogen%20at,to%20power%201300%20hydrogen%20trucks.
[4]: https://www.dw.com/en/germany-and-canada-sign-hydrogen-deal/a-62899992
[5]: https://www.energymonitor.ai/tech/hydrogen/namibia-stakes-its-future-on-the-green-hydrogen-market
[6]: https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/brazils-unigel-build-green-hydrogen-plant-with-120-mln-investment-2022-07-25/
[7]: https://www.energymonitor.ai/tech/hydrogen/china-readies-for-post-2025-green-hydrogen-boom

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