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Hot for Hydrogen:

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Angelina Giordano's picture
Manager, Operations & Marketing GEV Corp.

Angelina Giordano is focused on mitigating the effects of climate change, fighting for environmental justice, and creative writing. She finished her BA Sc. Environment degree and a French minor...

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  • Feb 9, 2021 5:00 pm GMT
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This item is part of the Special Issue - 2021-01 - State of the Industry, click here for more

As the world races to decarbonize, countries around the world have been adding hydrogen fuel to their current and future energy plans. Not just any kind of hydrogen, specifically green hydrogen. Green hydrogen fuel is produced using renewable energy to power a process known as electrolysis. The other two types of hydrogen, grey and blue hydrogen, are produced by fossil fuels – the only difference between these two is that blue hydrogen incorporates carbon capture technologies to lower overall emissions. Electrolysis produces green hydrogen without using fossil fuels by powering an electrolyser with solar, wind or hydro power. The electrolyser runs an electric current through water producing green hydrogen and emitting water (H2O) instead of carbon dioxide (CO2). Goldman Sachs estimates that by 2050 25% of renewable electricity could be used to produce green hydrogen.

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In June 2019, at the request of Japan the G20 asked the International Energy Agency (IEA) to prepare a detailed report on the Future of Hydrogen. Meanwhile, both the public and private sector have been working to actively promote the use of and cut the price of green hydrogen. Earlier this month ITM Power completed a 1GW Gigafactory, in Sheffield, England that can produce 350MW of PEM electrolysers per year.

These technological developments, supported by investments from both the public and private sector, will make green hydrogen more competitive. Japan is making several large investments promoting hydrogen, including $19 billion US dollars designed to make hydrogen a viable fuel for electricity generators by the end of 2030. The EU also has big hopes for hydrogen, as they are set to invest $570 billion in the hydrogen economy in the coming decades. Even the Trump Administration, famous for prioritising emission heavy energy, doled out $64 million to promote the United States green-hydrogen market. And now the Biden Administration plans to invest $400 billion on clean energy development via the creation of the new agency- Advanced Research Projects Agency on Climate (ARPA-C), part of which will focus on producing carbon-free hydrogen.

Turning to the North American private sector, Brookfield Renewable has teamed up with Plug Power to use their renewable energy portfolio to power one of the very first green-hydrogen producing facilities in North America. This may cause a domino effect and lead to a network of green hydrogen producing facilities across North America. Many utilities have already created pilot projects to uptick their green hydrogen production. NextEra Energy is building a 20-megawatt electrolyser in Florida that will be powered by solar and is aiming to be operational by 2023.  In Canada, Hydro-Québec recently awarded an 88-megawatt water electrolysis plant project to German industrial giant Thyssenkrupp. The plant will be powered by hydroelectricity and is projected to generate 11,100 metric tons of green hydrogen per year that will be used to fuel a biofuel plant. Moving forward, these projects will be only a few of the many projects expanding green hydrogen production. It will be exciting to follow these trends and to see if being “hot for hydrogen” ultimately pays off.

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