Environmental Chemistry

What does green hydrogen mean?

Green hydrogen?


What does Green hydrogen mean?

Companies and industry groups often join together to promote their products, but it was strange the step taken last month by ten major European companies.

And two of the largest renewable energy industry bodies on the continent, which joined in launching a campaign to promote a product that none of them sells.

This product is renewable  hydrogen, and although it is not a central concern today for these companies – Enel, EDP, Bayowa and others – or industry groups –

Solar Energy in Europe, Wind Europe – everyone sees green hydrogen as playing a vital role in achieving decarbonization. Deeply out of the power system.

Interest in green hydrogen is growing rapidly among major oil and gas companies.

Europe plans to make green hydrogen a large part of the $ 1 trillion green package package, and the EU-wide green hydrogen strategy is expected to be rolled out in July.

“We can’t make everything run on electricity,” said WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson. Some industrial processes and heavy transportation must run on gas.

And renewable hydrogen is the best gas because it is completely clean, and it will be affordable, because renewable energy sources are very cheap now.

What is green hydrogen? Introduction to Hydrogen Color Palette

Although it is a colorless gas, hydrogen is described by many terms associated with color.

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According to the nomenclature used by market research firm Wood Mackenzie, most of the gas already in widespread use is an industrial chemical that is either brown,

If made by converting coal or coal into gas, or gray, if made by steam reforming methane.

Natural gas is an intermediate material in its formation, and neither of these processes is specifically carbon-friendly.

There is a cleaner option known as “blue hydrogen”, as it is produced by reforming methane with steam, and its emissions are reduced by carbon capture and storage.

This process cuts the amount of carbon produced in half, but it is still far from emission free.

As for green hydrogen, it is able to virtually eliminate emissions, using renewable energy, which is increasingly abundant.

It does not require ideal conditions to be generated, by electrolysis of water.

The latest addition to the hydrogen production plate is turquoise, which is produced by breaking methane into hydrogen and solid carbon using a process called “thermal analysis”.

Turquoise hydrogen may appear relatively low in emissions, because the carbon can be buried or used in industrial processes, such as steelmaking or battery manufacturing, and so does not enter the atmosphere.

However, recent research indicates that turquoise hydrogen may not fare much better compared to blue hydrogen, due to emissions from natural gas supplies, and the required heat.

How is green hydrogen made?

With electrolysis, all you need to produce large quantities of hydrogen is water, a large electrolyzer and a lot of electrical energy.

If electricity is available from renewable sources such as wind, solar or hydro, then hydrogen is effectively green – that is, emission-free – as carbon emissions are limited to the infrastructure to generate power.

The challenge now lies in the lack of bulky electrolysis machines and expensive renewable electricity supplies.

Compared to conventional production processes, electrolysis is expensive, which is why the market for electrolyzers is still small.

While renewable energy production is now large enough to cause grid problems in Germany and the “duck curve” in California,

which are all-day energy production schemes that illustrate the timing imbalance between peak demand and renewable energy production, overproduction is a relatively recent development.

Most energy markets still require an abundance of renewable energy sources, just to service the grid.

How do you store and use these things?

In theory, you can do a lot of beneficial things with green hydrogen. You can add it to natural gas and burn it in thermal power plants or central heating plants.

You can use it as a feedstock for other energy carriers, from ammonia to industrial hydrocarbons, or to power fuel cells in cars and ships.

To start with, you can simply use it to replace the industrial hydrogen that is made annually from natural gas, which has a volume of 10 million metric tons in the USA alone.

The main problem in satisfying all potential markets is to deliver green hydrogen to where you need it.

It is not easy to transport and store because it is a highly flammable gas, consumes a lot of space, and makes steel pipes and welding brittle and susceptible to shatter.

This is why transporting hydrogen in large quantities requires special tubes, which will be costly to construct, in addition to compressing the gas or cooling it into a liquid.

These processes consume a lot of energy and thus affect the efficiency of green hydrogen transport, which is already in question.

Why is green hydrogen suddenly becoming a big issue?

One option to almost completely decarbonize the energy system is to electrify the entire energy system and use clean renewable energy.

But electrifying the entire power system will be difficult, or at least much more expensive than combining renewable energy generation with low carbon fuels.

Green hydrogen is one of the potential low-carbon fuels that could replace the fossil hydrocarbon today.

Hydrogen is not an ideal fuel, as its low density makes it difficult to store and transport.

Its flammability could be an issue, as was the case in the explosion of the Norwegian hydrogen filling station in June 2019.

But other low-carbon fuels also suffer from problems, not the least of which is cost, and since most of them require green hydrogen production as a feedstock, why not use the original product?

Proponents point out that hydrogen is already widely used in industry, so technical problems related to storage and transportation may be solvable.

The gas may be versatile, with many potential applications in areas ranging from heating, long-term energy storage and transportation.

The opportunity to implement green hydrogen across a wide range of sectors indicates that there is a large number of companies that could benefit from the booming hydrogen fuel economy.

Perhaps the most important of which is oil and gas companies facing increasing demands to reduce fossil fuel production.

Several major oil companies are among the players vying for a leading position in green hydrogen development.

For example, Dutch company Shell confirmed in May that it had joined the energy company Eneco to obtain the latest bid for Dutch offshore winds to be able to establish a standard hydrogen cluster in the Netherlands.

British Petroleum’s “Lightsource” solar energy development company revealed that it is studying the development of an Australian green hydrogen plant that will operate with 1.5 gigawatts of wind and solar energy.

Big Oil’s interest in green hydrogen may be important in bringing the fuel to commercial viability.

Reducing green hydrogen production will require massive investment and scale, something the major oil companies have the potential to offer.

How much does it cost to make green hydrogen?

Green hydrogen is still expensive to produce today. A report published last year – using 2018 data – estimated the cost of green hydrogen at between $ 3 and $ 7.5 per kilogram, compared to $ 0.9 – $ 3.20 for production using steam reforming methane.

Reducing the cost of electrolyzers will be important to lowering the price of green hydrogen, but that will take time and scale,

The International Energy Agency said that electrolyzer costs could be cut in half by 2040, from about $ 840 per kilowatt of capacity today.

The economic viability of green hydrogen requires extremely large amounts of inexpensive renewable electricity, given that much of it is consumed in electrolysis.

The efficiency of the electrolyzer ranges between 60 and 80%, according to Shell, and the efficiency challenge is compounded as many applications require green hydrogen to run fuel cells, leading to further losses.

Some observers have assumed that green hydrogen production may remove excess renewable energy capacities from large production centers,

Such as offshore wind fields in Europe, and given the still high cost of electrolyzers.

It is not certain whether the developers of the green hydrogen project would like to leave their electrolyers unused until it drops Renewable energy prices are below a certain level?

Most likely, the developers will establish green hydrogen production plants with dedicated renewable energy assets in high-resource sites, which is what Lighthouse BP and Shell are already planning.

How much green hydrogen is produced?

Green hydrogen production does not represent much compared to total energy production, accounting for less than 1% of total annual hydrogen production, according to Wood Mackenzie.

Wood Mac expects a production boom in the coming years. Completion of green hydrogen electrolyzer projects nearly tripled in the five months leading up to April 2020, reaching 8.2 gigawatts.

The increase was mainly driven by the increase in large-scale electrolyzer deployments, with 17 projects slated to have a capacity of 100 megawatts or more.

And it’s not just developing more projects. According to Woodmack, by 2027, the average size of electrolysis systems will exceed 600 megawatts.

Who is driving green hydrogen evolution?

Green hydrogen seems to be on everyone’s mind nowadays, at least 10 countries are looking to gas for future energy security and potential exports.

The latest country on the path to development in the field is Portugal, which in May unveiled a national hydrogen strategy that was said to amount to 7 billion euros – $ 7.7 million – by 2030.

Alongside oil and gas companies, renewable energy developers see green hydrogen as an emerging market.

Last month, the offshore wind company Ørsted announced its first major project targeting the transportation sector exclusively.

A handful of small companies hope to have a share of the growing green hydrogen cake, companies like ITM may not be as well known today.

But if green hydrogen is able to fulfill a fraction of its promise, it may one day become a giant.

What about hydrogen compounds?

The eye-catching Toyota Mirai helped fuel early hopes that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles might compete with electric cars to replace the internal combustion engine.

But as the electric car market thrives, hydrogen is less likely to be a serious competitor, at least in the passenger car sector.

There are about 7,600 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles on US roads today, compared to the more than 326,400 electric vehicles sold in the US last year alone.

However, experts expect hydrogen to play a role in cutting out carbon from some vehicles, with forklifts and heavy trucks among the beneficiaries.

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