Fuel of the Future | Green hydrogen is alternative to reduce carbon emissions

According to International Energy Agency (IAE) reports, global energy demand will increase by 25% to 30% by 2040 which increased the urgency of developing effective alternatives to greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, which accounts for approximately 65 percent of harmful emissions. As a result, ‘Green Hydrogen’, produced without the use of fossil fuels — has been identified as a potential source of clean energy that could help the world achieve net-zero emissions in the coming years.

Hydrogen is widely regarded as the future of fossil fuels due to its abundant supply, low-cost, clean-burning gas, making hydrogen a valuable resource in the fuel industry. But the properties of hydrogen preclude for several reasons, like hydrogen transport being extremely complicated and it also making the mettle brittle. On top of all that, it is about 20 times as explosive as gasoline and other fossil fuels.

Green hydrogen is being increasingly adopted by countries in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic due to the constant rise in the emission of greenhouse gases. President Joe Biden of the United States of America has stated his total support for green energy, with the goal of making America a green fuel nation. By 2050, most countries plan to fully transition to carbon-free green fuels, and governments are investing heavily in green hydrogen research and production.

Demand and growing support for hydrogen:

Hydrogen demand has tripled since 1975, and supply is attracting the attention of all major industrial users. According to estimates, over 70 Mt of hydrogen will be used as pure hydrogen in 2020, while less than 20 Mt is mixed with carbon-containing gases in methanol and steel manufacture.  The demand was almost entirely for refining and industrial purposes. With transportation as the primary goal, there are currently around 50 targets, requirements, and policy incentives supporting hydrogen.

What exactly is “Green Hydrogen”? How is it procured?

Green hydrogen emits significantly less CO2 than “grey hydrogen.”  Hydrogen is abundant in the universe, but it is not pure on Earth. Electrolysis is a common method of extracting hydrogen, which is a light and reactive fuel. This process generates energy without releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by separating hydrogen and oxygen from water. Green hydrogen produced by water electrolysis reduces emissions from steel and cement production, helping to combat climate change.

This method of obtaining green hydrogen would offset the annual emissions of 830 million tonnes of CO2 (IEA). It would take 3,000 KWH of new renewable energy per year to replace all the grey hydrogen on Earth. Green hydrogen production is expensive, so some people doubt its feasibility and the creation of affordable renewable energy.

 

How much would it cost to produce green hydrogen?

In the long run, green hydrogen is three times more expensive than steam-based hydrogen. A green hydrogen kilo costs between $3 and $7.50, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), versus $0.90 to $3.20 for hydrogen produced by steam methane reformation. The cost of electrolyzers could be reduced by 2040, but this will take time and scale. Because electrolysis wastes a lot of energy, the case for green hydrogen requires a lot of cheap renewable electricity. Shell claims its electrolyzers are 60-80% efficient.  Given the current high cost of electrolyzers, it’s unlikely that green hydrogen project developers will wait for renewable energy prices to fall below a certain threshold. As Lightsource, BP, and Shell have already considered, developers will likely build green hydrogen plants with specific renewable energy assets in resource-rich areas.

How can Green Hydrogen be used?

Green hydrogen can be used to generate heat or power by being burned or fed into a fuel cell. Several potential applications for hydrogen are outlined in a 2018 CSIRO report:

  • Industrial use of hydrogen is currently dominated by refining, ammonia, methanol, and steel production. Cleaning up hydrogen is important because nearly all of it is made from fossil fuels.
  • While the goal for cars is to reduce fuel cell costs and refueling stations, the goal for trucks is to reduce hydrogen supply costs. Low-carbon fuel options are limited in shipping and aviation, allowing hydrogen-based fuels to thrive.
  • It could be mixed with natural gas in buildings, with the greatest potential in multifamily and commercial buildings, especially in densely populated areas, and used directly in hydrogen boilers or fuel cells, in the long term.
  • For increased power system flexibility, hydrogen and ammonia can be used in gas turbines.
  • to minimize emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Australia may export hydrogen to energy-hungry countries lacking access to low-cost renewable energy, according to a 2018 CSIRO report. It is estimated that China, Japan, South Korea and Singapore will require $9.5 billion worth of imported hydrogen by 2030 if the CSIRO’s 2018 report is accurate. A $10 trillion ($13 trillion) business, Green Hydrogen could supply up to 25% of the world’s energy needs by 2050. Despite the hype, the future of hydrogen is uncertain. Becoming a major export requires storing and moving hydrogen.

Policies and actions relating to hydrogen

  • A clean, secure, and affordable energy system of the future requires harnessing hydrogen’s immense potential:

Its potential and applications were previously ignored. In recent years, superpower nations and corporations have become increasingly interested in green fuel. Large sums are invested in green hydrogen companies. Globally, policies and projects promoting green energy are rapidly expanding. Time to scale up green fuel development technologies to make them more affordable and accessible. Environmentally friendly green hydrogen development and use is urgently needed to break fossil fuel dominance. Securing affordable energy is an investment that will pay off in the future.

  • Hydrogen can help solve many energy issues:

Fossil fuel CO2 emissions are one of the world’s most serious energy issues. Global warming and the greenhouse effect have been linked to excessive emissions. Global CO2 emissions peaked in 2018 and have since risen. Pollution is destroying people’s health globally. Pollution-related deaths are rapidly increasing. Green hydrogen may also be a viable alternative in long-haul transportation, chemicals, iron, and steel.

  • Hydrogen is a versatile substance that can be used for a variety of purposes and in various forms:

The current technologies readily allow the use of hydrogen. Coal, oil, nuclear power, natural gas, and other renewable resources are easily converted into hydrogen gas. Green hydrogen can be shipped as a liquid or via pipelines. It can be used by power plants and industries as electricity. Also as a fuel for cars, ships, planes, and trucks.

  • Hydrogen boosts renewables’ contributions:

Demand for renewable energy sources like solar and wind is not met. Green hydrogen can easily manage solar PV and wind power outputs. For days, weeks, or months, it is the cheapest option. Fuels based on hydrogen can transport renewable energy farther. Transporting electricity from renewable energy-rich countries to energy-short countries may be beneficial.

  • Renewable energy sources have gained popularity since the pandemic.

It’s possible that this time will be different for hydrogen. Renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and electric vehicles have shown success over time. Innovation and ideas have shown to make the world a cleaner, greener place. Governments encourage renewable energy by lowering import and export taxes. Automakers, oil and gas companies, major engineering firms, and cities are all heavily investing in the development of green hydrogen.

Several challenges to hydrogen in industries:

Green hydrogen development and transportation are rapidly gaining importance as renewable energy sources are emerging in the form of future energy sources. But the progress in development is hampered by various factors like government policies, hydrogen properties, costlier production, inadequate transport facilities, and harmful impacts of hydrogen production on nature. Production of cells, refuelling equipment, and electrolytes will benefit from mass manufacturing. Communication between industry, local government, and central government is necessary to ensure the safe transportation of hydrogen via hydrogen pumps. At the moment, hydrogen is primarily produced from natural gas and coal. It contributes significantly to CO2 emissions. To increase investment in green energy development, government regulations should be reduced.

In Conclusion,

Green hydrogen is regarded as the future fuel due to its numerous advantages over conventional fossil fuels. It is used to generate drinking water and is extremely useful on space missions. The astronauts can produce drinking water in space by combining hydrogen and oxygen in a fuel cell. Additionally, it can be used to generate electricity in space. Thus, green hydrogen can be used to adequately supply crew members with water and electricity. Compressed hydrogen tanks can be used to store lithium-ion batteries efficiently. Hydrogen is advantageous in a variety of modes of transport, including heavy transport, aviation, and maritime transport. Hyraus and Cryoplane are the two major projects in this domain.

 

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