Decarbonization

Green Hydrogen: why it is worth the effort

There are various types of production of hydrogen energies, but not all are sustainable or better for the environment. Green Hydrogen can be a groundbreaking change in the energy narrative that the world has witnessed so far. It is also generated through renewable and sustainable means: hydro-power. Compared to methane, primarily used across industries around the world, Green  is much better for our environment. 

The challenge? Harnessing the element on a scale that is financially and popularly accessible. 

OVERVIEW

  • What is Green Hydrogen?
  • Why and how is Green Hydrogen sustainable?
  • Green hydrogen in action
  • Summary
  • Pros and cons of Green H2

Green Hydrogen is perceived as the most sustainable because it is generated using water energy. However, that is not the only reason. Green hydrogen is formed when electric currents split the Hydrogen (H2) from water molecules. This produces zero harmful by-products, pure Green Hydrogen to use, and fresh oxygen.

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WHAT IS GREEN HYDROGEN? 

In its essence, Hydrogen is the simplest element that exists, having the formula H2. Furthermore, Hydrogen is also the most abundant element on Earth and can be found in water, air, and solids. Extracting Hydrogen from water molecules using hydro power and electricity creates Green Hydrogen, a sustainably created and renewable source of energy. This makes it a wise -- and clean -- decision to turn to Clean Hydrogen for our future global fueling needs. 

As compared to methane, commonly known as natural gas, Green Hydrogen is much better for our environment. Unfortunately, it is only used by 2.04% industries across the world. The challenge? Harnessing it on a scale that is financially and popularly accessible. 

Global demand for pure Hydrogen from 1975 - 2018

In its essence, Green hydrogen is hydrogen created by splitting water into Hand oxygen using renewable power. The most frequent method is to separate hydrogen from water, which is composed of two parts hydrogen and a part oxygen (hence H2O). 

This is a rather straightforward process. Heat and chemical processes can be used to liberate hydrogen from organic resources such as fossil fuels. However, this is quite polluting. The global generation of hydrogen in this manner can be accountable for CO2 emissions equal to those of the U.K. and Indonesia combined. A cleaner manner to produce clean hydrogen is to use power carried through a tank of water that divides the molecule into its two basic atoms. This is known as electrolysis.

For this, an electrolyser is used. It is a device that generates hydrogen via a chemical process – electrolysis – able to extract the hydrogen and oxygen molecules that make up water. In addition to the electrolyser, an offshore wind farm for electricity generation has been observed as a crucial part of the clean hydrogen generation system. 

The offshore wind farm for electricity generation, the electrolyzer for hydrogen synthesis, and the hydrogen storage solution comprise the production system. More precisely, the individual electrolyzer strategy for hydrogen generation is not as straightforward due to the cylinder tube of a spar buoy. This restricts the amount of area available to place an electrolyzer and the accompanying equipment. As a result, this structure needs more extensive alterations than a platform that is suitable for partial submersion in water. This makes the other the most cost-effective floating port for an individual electrolyzer project.

Making the effort and investment to truly make a mainstream energy source is imperative. When we use fuels, we burn them, and that leads to elements and chemicals combining with the air. This produces toxic wastes and generates carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses. All these consequences of using fossil fuels lead to global warming and what we are suffering right now: the climate crisis. No matter the pressing need for change, the majority of the world continues to use methane.

We can, together, alter how our environment reacts to our energy consumption. When Green Hydrogen is used, the only by-product it creates is water vapor. When electricity is produced from renewable sources such as solar or wind, its use in green hydrogen generation creates no greenhouse gasses. 

Why and How is Green Hydrogen Sustainable?

There are several branches of energy that can be extracted from Hydrogen, including green, blue, and gray. So is hydrogen renewable?

Gray hydrogen is created due to the reaction between a methane source, such as natural gas, and high-temperature steam (700°C-1,100°C), known as steam methane reforming. This reaction generates hydrogen from unmanaged fossil fuels.

Blue hydrogen is considered low-carbon hydrogen, because traditional production is combined with carbon capture, usage, or storage. 

Green hydrogen is considered the best and most clean method for generating environmentally sustainable energy. It is renewable hydrogen and is created through electrolysis of water. This involves dividing water (H2O) into hydrogen and oxygen molecules with an electrolyzer. Since there are no related greenhouse gas emissions in its generating process, this sort of zero-carbon hydrogen is referred to as clean hydrogen. It can also be generated using biomass and natural compost pits using the Bio method, but this process is slower and more time consuming. 

Green Hydrogen is the most sustainable as it is formed by using electric currents that split the Hydrogen from water molecules. It’s producing zero by-products and pure Hto use, and fresh oxygen. The use of electricity to extract the element can also be used to electrolyze the element and create Hydrogen gas or liquid. This can also be stored, transported, and used when needed. 

Green hydrogen production process
Source: https://www.energypolicy.columbia.edu/research/article/hydrogen-fact-sheet-production-low-carbon-hydrogen&sa=D&source=docs&ust=1660641702772502&usg=AOvVaw0wg-7hXflD2k6SGDVvv2IE

Green Hydrogen in Action

There are commercial vehicles that, although very expensive for the working middle class, function solely on Green Hydrogen. Beyond the road, several industrial projects across the globe are incorporating clean hydrogen into their methods of bio marine studies and gas production. Currently, the leading projects are operating in Uruguay, Chile, and Nyhamna. 

In 2021, Volvo launched the world’s first vehicle made with fossil-free steel, aka green steel. Instead, the production of the metal used Green Hydrogen instead. Volvo is leading the way for a cleaner and more sustainably built transport industry. They have projects for increased production and commercially available vehicles by 2023.

Air Products and ACWA Power in Saudi Arabia are developing the world's largest green Hfacility. The facility’s capacity will be 650 tonnes per day by 2025. 

After years of debate and reluctance, large oil firms are committing to investing in Green Hydrogen to create a low-carbon future for our planet. According to the Business Standard, BP plc took the lead in June 2022 with a $36 billion investment in Australia. This collaboration could enhance Green Hproduction and generate 1.6 million tons of Green Hydrogen each year. 

The hydrogen market is quickly evolving, and industries are attempting to define important terms for offtake contracts, known as Hpurchase agreements (HPA). Any Hproject's commercial heart is the HPA. The  contract is critical for obtaining finance early on and is key for long-term bankability. 

As part of the HPA, the operator of the hydrogen producing plant provides all raw resources (such as water and energy). It then generates hydrogen that is supplied to the client under a contract. This is different from a tolling contract. That would require the customer to purchase power to use for the electrolysis plant and as a potential supply of water. It would provide these raw ingredients and pay the electrolyzer owner to generate green H2.

Policy debates surrounding HPAs are increasing with time, with the basic structure demanding four main standards: 

  1. The electricity used for green Hcreation must come from renewable sources. 
  2. The building of renewable energy plants must be encouraged. 
  3. There must be temporal correlation – relation in time – between the production of renewable electricity and that of green H2.
  4. The generation of green Hmust take place in locations closer to power sources. 

Green Hydrogen as a fuel is already a partial reality in places like Russia, China, France, and the United States. But also other countries like Japan are actively working towards becoming a 100% Green Hydrogen economy in the coming two decades. Green Hydrogen’s utility and many pros make it a path worth taking for industries and companies across the globe. 

Summary

Fortunately, the few disadvantages of Green Hydrogen are easily overlooked considering the positive impact the element and its extraction can have. Green Hydrogen is a groundbreaking change in the energy sphere. Its extraction from water molecules using electricity produces zero harmful by-products. As compared to methane, commonly known as natural gas, Green Hydrogen is much better for our environment. Being a sustainably created and renewable source of energy makes it a wise -- and clean -- decision to turn to Green Hydrogen for our future global fueling needs.

PROS AND CONS

  1. Transportable: Green Hydrogen can be transported through advanced pipelines. This lessens the disruption of the current overarching infrastructure. 
  2. Clean: Green Hydrogen gas produces water upon being used, regardless of which power the element is extracted from. It can be extracted from water, solar, wind, nuclear, biomass, or non-renewable power sources. Moreover, it does not produce polluting greenhouse gasses. 
  3. By-products: Extracting Green Hydrogen from water results in obtaining drinking water. Interestingly, this process can be started anywhere, including space stations, meaning storage and sustainable supplies for those traveling across the galaxy.
  4. Powerful: Green Hydrogen can power vehicles, factories, and even space missions. Higher energy density than batteries means it can be used for longer distances on the transport of heavy goods. 
  5. Versatile: Green Hydrogen can be successfully used in consumption niches that are very difficult to decarbonize. These include heavy transport, aviation, and maritime transport. There are already several projects underway in this area, such as Cryoplane. Cryoplane is promoted by the European Union and aims to introduce passenger aircraft.
  6. Storable: Unlike solar power, of which only a limited amount can be stored, Green Hydrogen’s excess energy can be stored. Currently, there is no way for us to harness more than a specific amount of solar or wind power at a time. Moreover, there is no tangible way in which to store the excess per day. But with Hydrogen, we can do that and more. This could drastically help decarbonize the chemical, industrial, and transportation sectors.

  1. Expensive: Due to the high costs of Green Hproduction and low degree of efficiency, there are still barriers for a broader commercial use. Green Hydrogen needs to be produced at a large scale to replace methane gas as the mainstream energy being used today.
  2. High energy consumption: The production of Green Hydrogen in general requires both electro and hydro energy. Compared to the generation of other fuels like methane gas, it may appear to be a futile process to some. However, proper financial and energy planning may help. 
  3. Volatile: Green Hydrogen is a highly flammable element and extensive safety measures are therefore required to prevent leakage and explosions.
  4. High volume: The volume of Green Hydrogen is considered nearly four times more than other hydrocarbons. It requires nearly 700 times more compression for storage, according to ABC news and Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy in DC, Washington. 
  5. Infrastructure: Green as atoms are small enough to sometimes pass through solid steel. This may render some old industry-grade pipes useless and in need of a massive revamp.

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