The Powersystems Renewables NewsWatch provides a roundup of the latest headlines relating to Hydrogen
Powersystems recently reviewed Green Hydrogen as a renewable energy technology and some of the challenges the sector faces and that pressure has been building to make more of this gas and to use it to move energy in a form that can burn in power plants and steel mills, energize fuel-cell vehicles and generators, and combine with captured carbon dioxide to make liquid fuels or solid plastics.
Hydrogen the magical gas that Jules Verne predicted in 1874 would one day be used as fuel is now beginning to get the long struggled attention it deserves, it is lighter than air, more common than carbon, and burns with a bang into a puff of pure water vapor. Some see it as an essential element in decarbonizing electricity, transportation, and even big industry. However, A net-zero world ‘would require 306 million tonnes of green hydrogen per year by 2050 derived from renewable energy each year, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) report, Net Zero by 2050 – A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector.
Now in 2021, the world may be starting to get ready for hydrogen
This gas is capturing the attention of governments and private sector players, fueled by new tech, global green energy legislation, post-pandemic “green recovery” schemes and the growing consensus that action must be taken to combat climate change.
The UK government’s “Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution” was published in November 2020 stating the intention of publishing a hydrogen strategy in 2021. This also set a target of 40 GW of offshore wind generation capacity and 5 GW of low carbon hydrogen production by 2030, appearing to indicate an intention to play a leading role in European hydrogen development.
The European Clean Hydrogen Alliance forecasts public and private sectors will invest €430 billion in hydrogen in the continent by 2030 in a massive push to meet emissions targets. Globally, the hydrogen generation industry is expected to grow to $201 billion by 2025 from $130 billion in 2020
Announced April, 8 Independent asset manager FiveT Capital Holding have launched a private infrastructure fund, FiveT Hydrogen Fund, dedicated to delivering clean hydrogen infrastructure projects at scale. The Euro-denominated Fund intends to raise a total of $1,189 billion (€1 billion) from a combination of financial and industrial investors. It will make largely minority co-investments into greenfield projects with key industrial players.
Hydrogen around the world
An eye-opening story in the Wall Street Journal described Saudi Arabia’s $500 billion plan to build a car-free megacity, complete with a $5 billion green-hydrogen plant, in a currently uninhabitable swath of its northwestern desert. The story also reports that Australia is considering an equally bold, $36 billion-project to construct 26 gigawatts of wind and solar generation in its arid western state to power production of green hydrogen for export as well as domestic use.
Japan and other nations are touting hydrogen production as a near-term priority and a major element in their long-term plans to decarbonize their economies. In a recent seven-part series on “The race to scale-up green hydrogen,” the Financial Times examined some of the 228 large hydrogen projects—involving $300 billion in capital investment—that have been announced.
A Hydrogen Strategy Steering Committee has been launched in Canada to establish priorities, guide actions, share knowledge and track results to deliver on recommendations outlined in the country’s Hydrogen Strategy.
Uzbekistan has approved a presidential decree to establishing a strategy to boost development of renewable and hydrogen energy. The decree outlines measures to support the introduction of innovative technologies to develop hydrogen and renewable energy sources, build hydrogen infrastructure to promote energy efficiency and security, and enable Uzbekistan’s transition to a green economy.
In Scandinavia, as part of Everfuel’s green hydrogen fuelling strategy, plans have been unveiled for 15 new hydrogen stations to be developed across Sweden by the end of 2023. Such network will comprise of sites developed by Everfuel, as well as stations in the partly EU funded Nordic Hydrogen Corridor initiative, developed in collaboration with the project partners Statkraft, Toyota, Hyundai and Hydrogen Sweden. Under its Scandinavian green hydrogen fuelling strategy, Everfuel hopes to connect the main traffic corridors in Sweden, Norway and Denmark with hydrogen stations.
In Spain, bp, Iberdrola and Enagás plan to develop the largest green hydrogen project in the region of Valencia. The project would be located in the bp refinery in Castellón, where a 20-megawatt (MW) electrolyser will be built, powered by renewable energy produced, among other sources, by a 40 MW photovoltaic plant. In later stages, the electrolysis capacity could be ramped up to 115 MW, becoming the largest green hydrogen project in the refining sector in Spain
A new 1.5 MWth pilot plant is being built at Cranfield University to test an innovative hydrogen production technology that substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions. The HyPER project (Bulk Hydrogen Production by Sorbent Enhanced Steam Reforming) is an international collaboration led by Cranfield University with £7.4 million funding from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s (BEIS) £505m Energy Innovation Programme.
Hydrogen for travelling
By 2035, there are no sales of new internal combustion engine passenger cars, and by 2040, the global electricity sector has already reached net-zero emissions.
Currently for road transport, the two most promising alternatives to petrol and diesel are electricity and hydrogen. While battery-electric vehicles dominate media attention, companies such as BMW is to pilot a small series of BMW i Hydrogen NEXT fuel cell vehicles in 2022, based on the German manufacturer’s current BMW X5. Drawing on experience from BMW’s fifth generation of e-drives, the vehicle will be equipped with a hydrogen fuel cell e-drive system.
Van Hool, Hyundai, Siemens and Toyota are working on the production of hydrogen-powered buses, lorries, trains and cars. The the European Commission, governments and cities have long believed that hydrogen is essential to achieving zero emissions in public transport and reducing air pollution.
For example, Paris, Mexico City and Amsterdam plan to replace their current buses and lorries with hydrogen or battery-powered models as early as 2025. Similarly, DHL, Budweiser and the French postal system (La Poste) are adopting hydrogen-powered road transport solutions. However, current hydrogen production is almost entirely powered by fossil fuels, with only 4% of energy coming from renewable sources. Decarbonization of the global transport sector requires a substantial increase in hydrogen production. One of the advantages hydrogen has over battery-powered cars is the speed of refuelling, which is the same as for petrol-powered vehicles, as is the range.
Due to its volume, currently hydrogen fuel is not well-suited to short-distance passenger vehicles but the renewable energy source is ideal for vehicles above 3.5 tons, such as lorries, buses and coaches, and vehicles requiring high availability such as gritters and emergency vehicles.
In the near term, with a major push to accelerate innovation a hydrogen hyper car is being developed in the UK. Coming in 2023 A hydrogen-powered hypercar, according to British start-up Viritech will be launched called the Apricale. Due to go into limited production in two years’ time, its job is to kickstart the nascent company’s journey to becoming “the world’s leading developer of hydrogen powertrain solutions for the automotive, aerospace, marine and distributed power industries”.
Apriciale comes from the Latin word ‘apricus’, which means to be ‘touched by the sun’. Viritech says it’ll be “half the weight of its battery competitors” thanks mainly to a clever new kind of hydrogen storage tank made from graphene composite and integrated into the hypercar’s structure. Just 25 examples will be built beginning in 2023, with between eight and 12 cars finished per year.
Flying with hydrogen
The use of hydrogen in transport is constantly evolving in all mobility sectors. In the air travel sector, for example, at the end of September, European engineering giant Airbus announced plans to make aviation travel emissions-free by 2020 with ZEROe. As reported by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, “Passenger air travel is producing the highest and fastest growth of individual emissions despite a significant improvement in efficiency of aircraft and flight operations over the last 60 years”. According to AirBus, the ZEROe concept can pave the way for greener air travel, reducing the aviation industry’s carbon footprint by upwards of 50%.
Hydrogen on the Tracks
The rail transport sector is also heading for a major breakthrough in decarbonization. Countries seeking ways to transport people while reducing the emissions of climate-changing gasses are looking at trains powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
One of the first trains of this kind is Alstom’s Coradia iLint, now being tested in many countries. The trains are equipped with fuel cells to convert hydrogen and oxygen from air into electricity and have a range of approximately 1,000 km, according to the company.
The very first orders for dual powered hydrogen-electric trains in France have been placed this week, in what represents a significant advancement in the technology which could revolutionise sustainable transport. Acting on behalf of the regions of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Grand Est and Occitanie, SNCF Voyageurs has placed an order with manufacturer Alstom for the first 12 dual mode hydrogen-electric trains (plus two optional trainsets) in a contract worth a total of almost €190 million.
“France has everything it needs to become a hydrogen champion: the French government is fully committed to turning this ambition into reality. We will be covering 47 million euros of development costs for France’s first regional hydrogen-powered train. I am delighted that this support has enabled the four partner regions to confirm their order for the first 14 trains,” said Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, Minister Delegate for Transport, French Ministry of the Ecological Transition.
Read more about building the clean electrification at the heart of the global decarbonisation strategy, the UKs first Hydrogen town and New Hydrogen Collaborations and Pathways in last months Hydrogen review.