Green hydrogen production is all set to be the energy source of the future. Advancements in hydrogen extraction and utilization in the form of fuel cells clearly imply lucrative and profitable investment opportunities. Hydrogen economy consultants in the UK can inform you about the current opportunities that await investors.
As the future fuel of choice, a time will certainly come when clean and sustainable energy production through hydrogen will replace all fossil fuels.
To begin with, hydrogen is the most abundant substance in the cosmos. It is a key element for steel manufacturing, methanol production, ammonia production and oil refining. Currently, the annual global demand for hydrogen stands at 70 million tons.
Continuous hydrogen supply to manufacturers is a critical component of the modern global economy. Hydrogen demand is rising sharply as evidenced by its 3-fold rise in demand since 1975. Most of the hydrogen is generated from fossil fuels. Coal and natural gas account for 2% and 6% of hydrogen production, respectively.
Due to its rising demand and importance, countries around the world are formulating policies to foster investment in hydrogen processes and technologies. The transport sector will be a key beneficiary of modern hydrogen technologies and the increasing number of policies and mandates in this regards clearly manifest this.
As mentioned, fossil fuels are the exclusive source of hydrogen. The use of fossil fuels for hydrogen production has the unfortunate consequence of an adverse environmental impact since 830 million tons of CO2 are released each year. This is equal to the combined carbon dioxide emissions of France and the UK.
There is clearly a need for a greener and cleaner hydrogen production process that is both sustainable and more environmentally-friendly. To this end, technologies are being developed to enable the production of green hydrogen. What is green hydrogen?
It is hydrogen generated through water electrolysis. Since this process requires electricity, renewable resources are a key requirement. The use of renewable energy for green hydrogen production will spare the environment and the earth against the detrimental impact of hundreds of millions of tons of carbon emissions each year.
Wind and photovoltaic and power systems, such as polymer electrolyte membrane (‘PEM’), are emerging as viable sustainable energy technologies for green hydrogen production. Thanks to these developments and increased support from energy corporates , the interest in green hydrogen is expanding. However, the challenge is tremendous, since these technologies would have to produce around 3600 TWh of electricity. This is almost equal to the amount of electricity that the EU generates each year.
The development of cost-effective electrolysis and renewable energy technologies will pave the way for the feasible generation of green hydrogen.
To extract electrical energy from hydrogen, fuel cells can be used. In a fuel cell, hydrogen reacts with oxygen to produce water and electricity. Fuel cell technology was first used in spacecrafts to generate electricity and water. The water produced, thus, could be consumed by astronauts and also used as coolant for the spacecraft’s systems.
The benefit of fuel cell technology is that hydrogen can be used for the generation of electricity without any harmful emissions or combustion. A beneficial byproduct is also produced – water.
A major challenge for green hydrogen production is the sporadic nature of the renewable technologies that it depends upon. Wind energy depends on the wind speed while solar energy depends on the sun’s intensity in the area where renewable energy is being generated. Clearly, these factors depend on the weather conditions which can fluctuate dramatically.Furthermore, optimising how hydrogen electrolyser technologies are integrated with existing electrical load management systems is vital.
However, once these challenges are met, green hydrogen will emerge as a game changer. Green hydrogen can function as a convenient form of energy storage. Battery technologies have failed to go beyond lithium-ion configuration. This is unfortunate because not only do these energy storage devices wear out quickly, they also have a relatively small energy density. The lack of progress in energy storage is critical and a solution is needed for higher energy density.
Green hydrogen is a promising candidate that can fill this void since it has a much higher energy density than lithium ion batteries. Fuel cells using green hydrogen from compressed hydrogen gas tanks will also prove to be more long lasting and durable than lithium ion batteries.
The transport sector is particularly well-suited for green hydrogen use. Vehicles of the future will be powered by fuel cells. FCEVs or fuel cell electric cars will soon replace battery-powered cars. Just like batteries, fuel cells will have the key advantage of zero pollution. There will also be other key benefits as mentioned above like higher energy density and better durability – both of these are paramount for vehicles.
Already, vehicle manufacturers are developing cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells. In demonstrations, these cutting-edge vehicles have shown several advantages and superior performance over battery-powered vehicles. One major upshot of fuel cell vehicles is that they recharge much more quickly than battery-driven vehicles.
But the exciting possibilities of hydrogen fuel cells are not just limited to ground vehicles. They could become an integral part of the aviation industry in the not too distant future.
Even in ground based transportation, hydrogen fuel cell technology will overcome the shortcomings of battery-powered vehicles. Heavy goods vehicles and buses cannot use battery-power owing to the low energy density of this medium.
Batteries store too little energy to provide sufficient power and range to heavier vehicles. Hence, they are limited to light vehicles only. Fuel cells powered by green hydrogen will prove to be a key breakthrough for heavy vehicles since it can store enough electrical energy to provide the necessary range and power to these vehicles. Thus, hydrogen fuel cells powered by green hydrogen will revolutionize long haul goods transport and mass transit.
Key developments are underway to make hydrogen fuel cell-powered buses a reality. European companies joined forces in 2019 to plan the building of infrastructure that will facilitate green hydrogen refueling of buses powered by fuel cells. The H2Bus Consortium thus came into being and it has unveiled a plan to deploy a thousand fuel cell powered buses that will initially make use of this infrastructure.
We can provide insights to help you make the best investments in green hydrogen – the fuel of tomorrow. Contact us today.