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Is The Green Hydrogen Hype Justified?

Green Hydrogen

Has the time for the “fuel of the future,” green hydrogen, arrived? Recently, some of the world’s biggest green hydrogen project developers and partners joined hands to launch the “Green Hydrogen Catapult” initiative that aims to drive down costs to below U.S. $2 per kg to help change energy across carbon intensive industries, including steel.

The seven founding partners include the Saudi-based ACWA Power, CWP Renewables, Envision, Iberdrola, Ørsted, Snam and Yara.

The Green Hydrogen Catapult initiative will try to scale green hydrogen 50-fold in the next six years. The initiative will leverage the support of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization.

The race to zero emissions is aiming for the deployment of 25 gigawatts through 2026 of renewables-based hydrogen production.

What is ‘green hydrogen?’

Green hydrogen has been regarded for many years as an alternative fuel to decarbonize emissions-intensive heavy industry and supply chains.

It is produced by using renewable energy  — wind and solar — to power electrolysis that splits water into its constituent parts.

With global warming becoming a serious threat, governments have been contemplating the use of hydrogen to “decarbonize” several industries. Those industries include steel, petroleum, transport, industrial heating and others. In addition, they are looking to its role in energy security.

The idea is to have a serious alternative to fossil fuels.

“Having led the race to deliver photovoltaic energy at well-below US$2 cents per kilowatt-hour, in certain geographies, we believe the collective ingenuity and entrepreneurship of the private sector can deliver green hydrogen at less than US$2 per kilogram within four years,” said Paddy Padmanathan, chief executive of ACWA Power, in a release. “From an industry perspective, we see no technical barriers to achieving this, so it’s time to get on with the virtuous cycle of cost reduction through scale up.”

Related: Goldman Turns Bullish On Oil: Sees $65 Brent In 2021

“The world urgently needs to massively ramp up deployment of breakthrough solutions like green hydrogen,” said Nigel Topping, COP26 High Level Champion for Global Climate Action. “The bold vision and leadership of businesses can propel green hydrogen along an exponential growth trajectory to support economic recovery and deep decarbonization sooner than anticipated.”

ACWA, U.S. firm collaborate on green hydrogen plant

According to a report by Greentech Media, ACWA Power is already working with U.S. firm Air Products & Chemicals on a U.S. $5 billion green hydrogen plant in Saudi Arabia. Four gigawatts of wind and solar will power the plant, which will produce 650 tons of the gas per day.

Meanwhile, according to the findings in a paper titled “Path To Hydrogen Competitiveness A Cost Perspective” by The Hydrogen Council, scale-up will be the biggest driver of cost reduction, notably in the production and distribution of hydrogen.

This will deliver significant cost reductions, even before any additional impact from technological breakthroughs.

Energy of the future


Studies have forecast that green hydrogen will meet at least 25% of the world’s energy requirements by 2050.

The paper by The Hydrogen Council concluded that hydrogen is “already scaling up” and considerable investments are being made globally. Furthermore, green hydrogen will provide an important low-carbon option across a wide range of sectors.

However, hydrogen’s development still requires suitable financial, infrastructural and policy support to achieve wide deployment and scale-up through commercial projects. In addition, the hydrogen industry can help enable the energy transition to a net-zero world, The Hydrogen Council added.

By AG Metal Miner

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on December 26 2020 said:
    The green hydrogen hype isn't justifiable in any form and shape.

    Still, hydrogen will get a small share of the global energy mix but like most alternative energy sources, it will never ever undermine or replace the dominance of oil and gas in the global economy.

    Green hydrogen’s Achilles heel is that it needs a lot of energy, namely solar and wind energy, to power the process of electrolysis to produce it. This is a wastage of energy. If that is the case, why not then bypass hydrogen and use solar and wind energy directly to generate electricity to drive emission-intensive heavy industry like steel.

    Moreover, if it is claimed that technology, collective ingenuity and entrepreneurship of the private sector have managed to reduce photovoltaic energy at well-below $2 cents per kilowatt-hour, then these same stellar qualities should help reduce photovoltaic energy cost further instead of wasting their efforts on producing the more expensive green hydrogen.

    The claim that green hydrogen will meet at least 25% of the world’s energy requirements by 2050 is the ultimate in hype.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London
  • Pekka Lehtikoski on December 28 2020 said:
    "Energy of the future", or rather "Possible future technology for energy storage and transport". The strength of the green hydrogen over battery storage is that it can be scaled to global energy storage and transport mechanism. The open question is a high loss, electrolysis has about 65% efficiency and fuels cells up to 50%, thus roughly two-thirds of production by wind or solar is lost in electricity->hydrogen->electricity conversion. The number is much better if hydrogen is used as-is. Another potential issue is that the whole infrastructure of production, pipelines, power plants, ships, harbors, etc needs to be built. I think it is doable, but really a massive investment that would divert much resources from the next few generations. Is the Green Hydrogen justified? Perhaps, it would be a piece in the puzzle towards a cleaner world. Will it is done and 25% (of energy storage or transport?) be on it by 2050? Unlikely, It would require global cooperation. Just the simple task of reaching an agreement within the US seems unachievable. Most are for clean energy, as far as someone else pays the bill.
  • Pras Dhak on December 31 2020 said:
    New high-temperature steam electrolysis 90% efficient. New fuel cells are 60% efficient. That results in 66% more energy being available for work than suggested by Pekka. Now, if the cost of electrolysis equipment can be brought down along with the cost of storage, we have a very viable technology in our hands. The suggestion that it'll never catch on is quite frankly silly.

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