Powersystems Hydrogen NewsWatch Update June 2021

June 24, 2021

The Powersystems Renewables NewsWatch provides a roundup of the latest headlines relating to Hydrogen

Earlier this year Powersystems 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.

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 State of the Hydrogen Nation Survey was launched this month by the Hydrogen Strategy Now group (campaign partners include; Vattenfall, Alexander Dennis, EDF, ITM Power, Orsted, Siemens, BOSCH and many more) to analyse the views of industry leaders on the progress and potential of the UK Hydrogen sector to date. The survey advises that the UK could miss out on millions in investments and tens of thousands of jobs in the next decade unless the Government raises its 5 GW Hydrogen target.

More than three-quarters of respondents to Hydrogen Strategy Now’s ‘State of the Hydrogen Nation’ survey said the 5 GW hydrogen production target set out in the PM’s Ten Point Plan is not ambitious enough. And almost half said the lack of a clear Hydrogen Strategy has seen the UK “miss out on valuable investments” into UK hydrogen projects, while 81% said the UK was failing to meet its hydrogen potential.

Around 60% of respondents said they were not confident that the Hydrogen Strategy would create a “world leading” hydrogen market, which the Government has set as its measurement of success. The survey also revealed that industry experts believe that Scotland is far ahead of the other devolved administrations when it comes to hydrogen ambitions.

Hydrogen is Point Two in the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution. It featured heavily in the Energy White Paper, and there are several major upcoming policy documents that are expected to include significant commitments on hydrogen – the Transport Decarbonisation Plan, the Heat and Buildings Strategy, and the Hydrogen Strategy itself.

The global hydrogen race

The global hydrogen race is gathering speed. The global hydrogen economy is estimated to be worth $2.5 trillion by 2050, supporting 30 million jobs. Other nations, such as Australia, Japan, South Korea, Canada, and China have already set ambitious strategies for growing their hydrogen economies.

Germany joined this list with their own €9 billion hydrogen strategy. Reported last week by the German National Hydrogen Council, it is estimated by the German Fraunhofer Gesellschaft that 80 terawatt hours (TWh) will be needed by 2030, and 400 to 800 TWh by 2050. The demand for Hydrogen will be even greater than previously assumed and reported.

The European Commission is also creating an EU hydrogen strategy, which includes plans for multi-billion-euro investment in hydrogen projects, and schemes to boost sales of hydrogen electric vehicles.

Last year, the EU and 15 other countries published hydrogen plans. At least $300bn is expected to be invested globally over the next decade by the public and private sectors, with some even projecting that hydrogen could meet almost a fifth of global energy demand. The potential reward is great. By strategically placing, in the PM’s words, a “big bet” on hydrogen now, the UK can create thousands of highly skilled green jobs, attract investment and unlock large scale export opportunities, increase energy security and position itself world leader in a future $2.5tr hydrogen economy. However, many other nations are also alert to this Net Zero and economic opportunity and are moving fast to position themselves at the front of the global hydrogen race

Next Steps

The race to lead this industry has started, evidenced by the billions being invested into hydrogen by Governments across the world. As Baroness Brown, vice chair of the Committee on Climate Change, stated at the launch of the Hydrogen Strategy Now campaign, “the UK missed the boat on wind technology and missed the boat on batteries. We can ‘t afford to miss the boat on hydrogen”.

Britain can win the race for hydrogen supremacy if it faces down competition from Japan

Japan has made an unprecedented commitment to hydrogen power as an alternative energy source, investing US$19.2 billion in the technology in new funding alone. As first out of the starting blocks, Japan has staked its claim as the world leader in the industry. We are at a critical juncture, however, and there is a golden window of opportunity for the UK to become a serious hydrogen player.

The hydrogen strategy in Japan is bold and far-reaching. So, how can the UK match Japan’s efforts and become the pre-eminent hydrogen world power? There are a host of simple policies which must be implemented as soon as possible in order to steal a march on the competition.

First of all, we need mechanisms to incentivise hydrogen vehicles, along with a similar incentive for each kilogram of hydrogen sold. This can be quickly achieved through the liberalisation of the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, which has recently gone out for public consultation. Looking further, we hope the hydrogen strategy will enable the development of a more refined scheme, such as potentially contracts for difference.

The government must throw its support behind hydrogen trains, as being achieved currently in the EU (we reported in last month’s NewsWatch with the very first orders for dual powered hydrogen-electric trains in France ) and back the mass deployment of hydrogen buses, again it was announced this week that London is the first city in England to put hydrogen-powered double-decker buses on the streets after a new fleet was launched this week. Transport for London (TfL) yesterday added 20 zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell buses to the 500 electric buses already in service in London, hopefully this will kick-start investment in UK-made buses as well as stimulate hydrogen production.

The hydrogen-power construction of the nuclear power station, Sizewell C should be a blueprint for the future of construction, one of the most emissions-heavy industries in the UK. All of these policies have the ability to accelerate progress to net zero, stimulate private investment and create jobs across the United Kingdom, with minimal taxpayer spend.

Hydrogen electric vehicles – Pros and Cons

Hopium unveils its hydrogen-powered sedan prototype and opens the first 1000 pre-orders

Hopium the new French manufacturer of hydrogen powered sedans, unveils its very first rolling prototype during the ‘Viva Technology’ week in Paris. This high-end vehicle, aims to be the first French-powered sedan to hit the market in 2026. The Machina prototype will be equipped with a 700-bar Type IV vessel made by Plastic Omnium in its Herenatls plant (Belgium).

Announced in October 2020 and produced in record time in the Linas-Montlhéry test workshop, this vehicle called Alpha 0, certifies the reliability of the fuel cell system. After the design and architecture phases, followed by the implementation of the various components within the vehicle, the prototype was able to be evaluated and perfected through bench and track tests. With a speed of 200 km/h (124 mph), this test version already borders on the performance promised by the Hopium Machina in its final form. Alpha 0 also introduces for the first time the signature lighting, emblem of Hopium, whose shape is reminiscent of the stratification of hydrogen and the movement of waves on the surface of water. The Hopium teams are already fully committed in carrying out the next steps, aiming to produce Hopium Machina on an industrial scale, with a new rendez-vous expected in the first quarter of 2022.

The Inherent problem with Hydrogen Cars

According to European non-governmental organisation Transport & Environment, for every 100kWh of renewable electricity, you get 77kWh of useable energy from a battery EV (BEV), but only 30kWh in a hydrogen-powered fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV). A green-hydrogen-powered EV therefore requires more than two-and-a-half times the amount of electricity as a BEV.

One of the arguments in favour of FCEVs is that they can be filled up like petrol or diesel vehicles, eliminating the range anxiety associated with EVs — presuming that H2 fuelling will be widely available. It is also argued that they will be easier than BEVs for drivers who do not have easy access to a charging point, such as those who live in apartments or do not have a driveway.

But as Volkswagen recently pointed out, while explaining its decision to focus on BEVs, FCEVs will always be a more expensive option, and their perceived advantages will soon be undermined. “With the battery-powered e-car, driving remains affordable. Current e-models are already at the price level of comparable combustion engine models. “In contrast, the hydrogen car will always remain more expensive than the battery car – due to the complex technology and high fuel costs. Drivers already pay around €9-12 per 100km for a hydrogen car, while battery cars cost only €2-7 per 100km (depending on electricity prices in individual countries). And the topic of long-distance travel? That will soon no longer play a role. With the new generation of e-cars, ranges will increase to 400km to 600km, while charging will become increasingly faster.”

Blow to clean hydrogen sector as major truck maker rules out H2 for long distance transport

Volkswagen-owned Scania, which has produced both battery- and hydrogen-powered vehicles, has concluded that H2 will be too inefficient and expensive for long-distance transport. “Scania has invested in hydrogen technologies and is currently the only heavy-duty vehicle manufacturer with vehicles in operations with customers. However, going forward the use of hydrogen for such applications will be limited since three times as much renewable electricity is needed to power a hydrogen truck compared to a battery electric truck. A great deal of energy is namely lost in the production, distribution, and conversion back to electricity,” the Swedish manufacturer said in a statement. Scania’s aim is to be the leader in the shift towards a sustainable transport system. Battery electric vehicles will be the main tool to drive this shift and to enable decarbonised transport solutions with better transport economy to customers.”

China to spend billions on hydrogen vehicles despite a minimal supply of clean H2

Concerns have been raised in China that an investment boom in technology and infrastructure to support hydrogen-powered vehicles risks being undermined because of insufficient supplies of clean H2. Incentivised by government subsidies, 35 projects related to fuel cells, fuel-cell vehicles and hydrogen refuelling stations worth a combined 110bn yuan ($17bn) have been signed in China in the first five months of 2021. Most of these plans have involved investment in the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and refilling stations, which can be built a lot more cheaply and faster than large-scale hydrogen production projects. However, few have thought about where the Hydrogen supply will come from. Read more here

Embryonic markets and rapid growth of key technologies

Wind could produce affordable green hydrogen by 2030

Wind power could make it possible to produce hydrogen without emitting greenhouse gases as cheaply as is currently feasible with fossil fuel energy by 2030, turbine maker Siemens Gamesa (SGREN.MC) said in a white paper released on June 9. Using onshore wind turbines to power electrolysers that extract hydrogen from water could become as cheap as making it using fossil fuels by 2030, and offshore wind could get there by 2035, Siemens Gamesa said. It also said it would only be possible to bring down the cost of green hydrogen and boost production if government and industry speed up building renewable capacity, developing a supply chain and supporting infrastructure. “We can’t underestimate the challenge of producing green hydrogen at the scale needed to deliver on the 2050 net zero targets,” it said. Electrolysers and battery storage can be added to existing wind farms, and sites near places that demand hydrogen can also start to produce it, the company said. Siemens Gamesa, which dominates the global market for offshore wind turbines, said it is speeding up work on a prototype system to produce hydrogen powered by offshore wind in the next five years. read more

Europe on track for 2.7GW of hydrogen electrolyser capacity by 2025

The total announced project capacity within the European hydrogen electrolyser market would take the green hydrogen sector to 2.7 GW by 2025 – a nearly 50-fold increase on capacity built over the last ten years. This is according to research conducted by Delta-EE’s new Global Hydrogen Intelligence Service, the study indicates that over the past decade, project activity around clean hydrogen has been growing quickly, with 67 operational projects including electrolysers, offering a total capacity of 56MW, developed across 13 different countries. These projects produce an estimated 4,700 tonnes of green hydrogen per year, with approximately half of this consumed by the transport industry and approximately one third used for decarbonising industrial applications, such as petrochemical refining.

The study found that currently nearly half of all European electrolyser capacity is in Germany, while no other country has more than 10MW installed. However, the sector is expanding fast; the first major projects in several countries (e.g. Spain, Netherlands, Denmark) will be at the 10s of MW scale in 2021/22 and will soar towards the 100s MW by 2025. A key factor in this growth will be the increase in manufacturing capacity of electrolyser manufacturers.

Light hearted updates on Hydrogen

For the first time, the Eiffel Tower in Paris has been lit up by electricity produced from certified renewable hydrogen.

The hydrogen, supplied by Air Liquide, lit up the Tower for a laser show during the Paris de l’hydrogène event organised by Energy Observer. The event is showcasing the potential role of hydrogen in France’s green recovery, as well as raising awareness of the energy transition in general.

I’m lovin it: McDonald’s Switzerland ships its Big Mac ingredients in a green hydrogen truck

McDonald’s Big Mac and hydrogen; probably not two things you were expecting to read in a sentence today. But ingredients for the famous hamburger and other products were shipped to a McDonald’s restaurant in Switzerland in a green hydrogen truck last month. Logistics company Havi said it transported the goods from its centre in Oensingen, Solothurn to the McDonald’s site in Crissier, Vaud – and it called the journey a world first. Boasting a range of 400km, this hydrogen truck runs quietly as well as emission-free; refuelling with green hydrogen created using renewable energies takes just 10 minutes.

Read more about building the clean electrification at the heart of the global decarbonisation strategy, the UK’s first Hydrogen town and New Hydrogen Collaborations and Pathways in Aprils’ Hydrogen review.

Read more about Net Zero by 2050, the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance, Five T a private hydrogen infrastructure fund as well as Hydrogen trains, planes and automobiles in May’s Hydrogen review

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