Currently, the majority of hydrogen is produced by reactions via coal and natural gases, considered “grey hydrogen” that does not limit CO2 emissions. The Hydrogen sector has the goal of producing hydrogen from low-carbon energy sources expanding its use into the transportation and power generation sectors.
Benoît Potier, chief executive of Air Liquide and co-chair of the Hydrogen Council commented:
2020 marks the beginning of a new era for energy: as the potential for hydrogen to become part of our global energy system becomes a reality, we can expect fewer emissions and improved security and flexibility,
A clean energy future with hydrogen is closer than we think because the industry has been working hard on addressing key technology challenges.
Two main factors add to green hydrogens favour. One is that the cost of renewables and green energy continues to fall, the other is that the urgency to reduce greenhouse gas levels is gaining more attention and action under the Paris climate agreement.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) notes that Hydrogen from renewable energy is technically viable today, the price of which will one day be on par with “grey hydrogen” made from coal and natural gas.
To produce green hydrogen energy produced from solar panels may need to be stored in a battery before it is used in an electrolyzer that creates pure hydrogen gas. The hydrogen is then stored in a cylinder or tank before it’s transferred into a fuel cell which then uses the hydrogen to create clean electricity with 0 emissions.
Emanuel Taibi, head of Power Sector Transformation Strategies for IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Center commented:
What we see as an opportunity is to scale up to reduce the cost of electrolyzers… it is still small-scale and hand made. If we can industrialize those, we can increase the scale 5-to-10 times.
It is believed that progress will be gradual with the cost of electrolyzers to halve in 2040. During this time, it is believed that the price of renewable energy will continue to fall creating a compound effect that will make green hydrogen economical and prevalent.
Once you produce the hydrogen from whatever source, you are scaling up the infrastructure: pipelines, ships and fueling stations… To get green hydrogen competitive, we need to scale up electrolysis.
Major industrials are very interested in this topic with firms such as UK’s Royal Dutch Shell, Italy’s Synam, France’s Engie, Thailand’s PTT Public Co. and U.S.-based Cummins Inc. investing in the hydrogen economy.