Green Hydrogen: The Next Big Thing in Energy?
by Bob Shively, Enerdynamics' President and Lead Facilitator
The last few years have seen dramatic growth of natural gas and renewables. Now the energy industry is seeing the transcendence of electricity storage as a new key resource. Recent developments in green hydrogen – hydrogen manufactured from renewable resources – suggest that green hydrogen may be the next big trend to hit the industry. Here are some recent quotes from industry insiders:
“There is no way to get to 100% renewable energy that I can see right now without hydrogen in the mix. It doesn’t exist.” ~ Los Angeles Department of Water and Power General Manager Marty Adams
“Green hydrogen seems like it’s at some sort of possible inflection, there’s definitely something in the air.” ~ Ben Gallagher, SME, Carbon & Emerging Technology, Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables
The attraction of hydrogen is that it can be created using excess renewable energy. This benefits consumers seeking a cleaner alternative to natural gas or oil and the electric grid by “soaking up” excess renewable energy when there is insufficient electric demand from end users.
Source: Adapted from SoCalGas website
A recent GreentechMedia article titled 10 Countries Moving Toward a Green Hydrogen Economy noted that international competition to gain a lead in the green hydrogen economy has already begun. Examples of activities include the following:
- The country has announced plans to develop a national hydrogen strategy with the vision to export green hydrogen to current LNG markets such as Japan and South Korea.
- Siemens recently joined a partnership to develop a 5-GW combined solar and wind project aimed at powering renewable hydrogen production.
- Gas network operator Evoenergy and the Canberra Institute of Technology have launched the nation’s first hydrogen testing facility with the goal to understand how green hydrogen produced from excess wind and solar energy can viably be used in existing gas networks.
- The government of South Australia has approved a plan to build a green hydrogen production facility near Adelaide, which would provide hydrogen for injection into the gas pipeline grid and provide exports to Asia.
- Queensland University of Technology made a small export of green hydrogen to Japan in 2019.
- Canada is already home to leading providers of hydrogen fuel cells and electrolizers including Ballard Power Systems and Hydrogenics.
- The Canadian government has recently released a plan titled "2019 Hydrogen Pathways – Enabling a Clean Growth Future for Canadians," which lays out numerous steps concerning research, demonstration and pilot projects, and cooperation with international efforts.
- Government targets include 5,000 fuel-cell vehicles by 2020 and 1 million by 2030 with a current focus on buses and trucks.
- The city of Wuhan is planned to become a hydrogen city.
- While much of China’s current hydrogen production is from coal, ongoing research is focused on wind, solar, and biomass as alternative feedstock.
- Siemens and China State Power Investment Corp. signed an MOU for the development and utilization of green hydrogen.
- The German government provides significant support for hydrogen research including plans for 20 research labs and over $110 million in funding.
- German company Siemens is one of the world leaders in development of green hydrogen technology.
- Uniper Energy Storage has constructed the world’s first demonstration plant for storing hydrogen from wind energy in the natural gas grid.
- Automakers Toyota and Honda are considered the world leaders in development of hydrogen vehicles.
- Japan recently launched the world’s first ocean-going liquid hydrogen carrier.
- Japan has announced a global plan to set up over 10,000 hydrogen fueling stations.
- Norway has pioneered the use of hydrogen fuel cells in ferries.
- Norwegian company Nel Hydrogen is a world leader in producing, storing, and distributing hydrogen from renewable energy.
- The U.K. government is funding $515 million in development of green hydrogen pilot projects.
- U.K. company ITM Power is a world leader in design and manufacture of products that generate hydrogen gas based on Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) technology.
- The U.K. is helping fund development of a plan by ERM, Engie, and ODE for a 4-GW floating wind/green hydrogen project. A 2-MW pilot off the coast of Scotland is the initial step.
The green hydrogen industry is still in the early stages of development. But already, industry giants are vying to capture the lead. While we won’t see widespread deployment of green hydrogen for some time, we may be seeing the beginnings of the next big thing in energy.
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