Climate Risk & ESG Risk

Hydrogen Economy and its Role in Becoming a Key to Global Decarbonization

Roshni Khatri

22nd Nov'22

"Water is the coal of the future," said Jules Verne almost 150 years ago. 

 

The statement is true, as we all need coal to fulfill commercial and personal requirements. He further states that the elements hydrogen and oxygen, decomposed by electric current, will be the future supply of earth's energy.

 

What do you say? Will he be right? Is hydrogen the "silver bullet" that will help the Earth get rid of carbon? Or it is merely a hype train, as Forbes put it.

 

Hydrogen won't be able to stop climate change on its own that much is certain. The fastest overall growth in renewable energy is what we require for a successful energy transition, together with an extension of the system to deliver renewable electricity to consumer regions. 

Parallel to this, we must successfully increase the effectiveness of the current energy systems and rely on stopgap measures. 

 

What Is Fueling the Hydrogen Economy's Growth?

 

Investor support for hydrogen efforts is expected to be strong. Governments are eager to harness the hydrogen economy to foster financial development and further their post-crisis recovery plans. However, initial investments must first provide the groundwork for the hydrogen economy by constructing the required infrastructure. 

 

Decarbonization

 

There is also pressure to advance the hydrogen economy to lessen reliance on fossil fuels and facilitate the transition to a decarbonized global economy. 

 

H2's Potential to Reduce Carbon Emissions in the Economy 

 

Today, the manufacturing of methanol and ammonia (used to make fertilizers) and the refining of petroleum are the main uses for the bulk chemical hydrogen (H2). It doesn't cause pollution or greenhouse gas emissions when used as fuel. 

 

Hydrogen presents the chance to decarbonize the energy sector and significant portions of the economy, including transportation, manufacturing, power production, and municipal heating. This is due to its potential as a feedstock, energy carrier, and storage medium. 

 

Additionally, it offers intriguing perspectives in challenging industries that use a lot of energy or long-distance transportation, where electrification is only partially feasible. 

 

However, currently, between 70 and 100 Mt CO2 are emitted annually in just the EU countries due to the production of about 95% of hydrogen from natural gas or other hydrocarbons. 

 

"Many regional nations have started research projects, adopted hydrogen policies, and raised billions of dollars in funding. 

 

However, significant political commitment and public and private investment would be needed, according to UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova. The transition to a hydrogen economy requires the creation of rules and regulations for the safe transport, storage, and use of hydrogen, which UNECE will continue to promote. 

 

The Essentials For a Successful Global Hydrogen Economy

 

Scaling up hydrogen generation without the use of carbon and having it readily available where it is needed is necessary for accelerating progress. We need to build the pillars of the future green index to save the planet. Here are five factors that will get us closer to a society powered by hydrogen.

 

Decarbonization

 

Enhancing the Production of Green Hydrogen

 

Over the previous five years, the global capacity of electrolyzers—which utilize electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen and may be fueled by renewable electricity—has doubled. In 2021, about 350 new projects were actively being developed to electrolytically manufacture clean hydrogen from water, with an additional 40 projects in the planning stages. 

 

By 2030, the global supply of hydrogen from electrolyzers could exceed 8 million tonnes if all those projects are successful. This is still far short of the 80 million tonnes needed by that time, according to the IEA, to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. 

 

Such facilities need to be widely dispersed, and production techniques need to advance to create a sustainable market. This will increase demand while also lowering the cost of green hydrogen in comparison to both conventional production techniques and fossil fuels. 

 

Low Carbon Blue Hydrogen to Build Demand

 

Finding novel methods of producing low-carbon hydrogen that go beyond electrolysis is crucial for achieving this aim. The "hydrogen wheel" has significantly changed, now displaying everything from purple hydrogen to turquoise hydrogen (produced by splitting methane into hydrogen and solid carbon). 

 

There must be enough demand for green hydrogen in the first place in order to scale up production. However, there has to be enough hydrogen on hand to meet this need. Scaling up swiftly means this. 

 

The conventional production process is decarbonized using CO2 capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS). It is frequently seen as a crucial bridging technology to construct the demand and supply cycle of the hydrogen economy until green hydrogen reaches maturity. 

 

Getting Hydrogen To The Required Location 

 

Easy access to infrastructure, such as charging stations, is essential to generating demand, as the market's sluggish growth for electric vehicles has demonstrated. Because of this, building the necessary infrastructure for hydrogen will be essential to success. 

 

One alternative is geological storage in salt caverns. Examples include the Advanced Clean Energy Storage project in Utah and a similar undertaking by MHI in Texas, where salt is being extracted from enormous caverns in order to create hydrogen storage. The process of converting hydrogen into ammonia has the greatest potential, excluding geological ones. 

 

Since ammonia is a denser gas, it is simpler to store and move. In addition, pipeline networks will be crucial for delivering hydrogen to its final customers. 

 

Decarbonization

 

Transition in Heating

 

Heating is a major energy consumer in the world, used in households, businesses, and for other purposes. But fossil fuels continue to provide 60% of it. 80% of the direct CO2 emissions in the building sector in 2021 were directly related to heating. 

 

Since 2009, the Ene-Farm program in Japan has installed hydrogen fuel cells to supply households and businesses with heat and electricity. By 2030, the government wants to have installed 2.5 million units. 

 

In Europe, 63% of residential energy use is for heating. Natural gas boilers are still used in the majority of residences. The demand for renewable energy is just 27% met. In the current gas infrastructure, hydrogen presents a tremendous opportunity as a carbon-free substitute. 

 

Common Guidelines For The Hydrogen Economy's Expansion 

 

Standardization has been crucial in expanding the addressable market for gas, as well as for electricity and many other industries, going back to the time of engineer William Murdoch and many who came after him. Therefore, achieving harmony and working together internationally must be the top political priorities. 

 

Since global markets are at very different stages of development, harmonization may be difficult to achieve globally. 

 

However, events like the COP26 and upcoming COP27 and COP28 meetings, along with the Hydrogen Energy Ministerial Meetings, offer crucial platforms to coordinate and promote hydrogen internationally. 

 

Conclusion

 

Over the next 20 years, we anticipate a tremendous expansion of the hydrogen economy, mostly fueled by green or renewable hydrogen. The development of renewable energy sources, direct electrification and renewable heat, carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), and energy efficiency make up the other four of the five pillars of decarbonization. Hydrogen is one of them. 

 

Their adoption might potentially shift the game and help stakeholders attain global carbon neutrality. In other words, trends for the environment and sustainability are essential for the preservation of natural resources. 

 

We at OpenGrowth, are committed to keeping you updated with the best content on the latest trendy topics from any major field. Also, both your feedback and suggestions are valuable to us. So, do share them in the comment section below.

A keen observer, who loves to spend time with nature. A fun loving person, enjoys to explore the new aspects of life. Passionate about reading and learning new things. Roshni is dedicated towards her work and has worked in different professions.

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