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Decarbonizing Power Generation with Hydrogen

image credit: Siemens Energy
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Major companies create European hydrogen joint ventures

Germany’s Siemens Energy AG has partnered with French industrial-gas supplier Air Liquide to develop hydrogen technology via electrolysis. An electrolyzer is a item of equipment that uses electricity to break water into hydrogen and oxygen. The short term plan is to build a market in manufacturing and supplying electrolyzers in Europe for sustainable industrial-scale production of hydrogen. In the longer view, as many countries are moving decarbonize their economies with major investments in hydrogen, the companies intend to create a European ecosystem to facilitate this new utility business sector.

The two companies will apply a grant from the European Union’s (EU’s) Green Deal, a plan designed to make the EU carbon neutral by 2050. The companies said the funding applications will fall under the Green Deal’s Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) - program for hydrogen, which is supported by both French and German governments.

Last year Germany announced a National Hydrogen Strategy, which assigned $8.2 billion for investments in new business and research developing green hydrogen, as well as a further $2.3 billion to support international partnerships in hydrogen technology schemes.

Other European players are moving into hydrogen: EDF Energy's Hydrogen to Heysham (H2H) consortium showed that it was feasible to utilize its large Hinkley C nuclear power station – currently under construction – or the planned Sizewell C reactor to produce hydrogen cheaply using spare reactor capacity. The longer that an electrolyzer is used, the lower the levelized cost of the hydrogen produced, which makes nuclear-powered hydrogen a potentially cheaper option than other forms of generation and adds a new profit stream to the business.

EDF has produced a study that estimates future electrolyzer capacity of about 550MW across its operations could produce about 240 tons of hydrogen a day by 2035, bringing the cost down to around a dollar per pound of hydrogen created.

Air Liquide and Siemens Energy have already identified cooperation opportunities for large-scale sustainable hydrogen projects in France, Germany, and other European countries. Those projects include Air Liquide’s H2V Normandy project in France, which has a capacity of 200 MW and is considered one of the most important European projects for hydrogen production from renewable energy.

“Hydrogen is a key enabler of the energy transition. In the context of an unprecedented acceleration in Europe of hydrogen technologies and markets, the time to scale-up is now, notably in France and Germany,” said Benoît Potier, chairman and CEO of Air Liquide. “The partnership between Air Liquide and Siemens Energy paves the way for the creation of a leading European ecosystem capable of supplying decarbonized hydrogen at competitive prices and promoting the emergence of a low-carbon society.”

Christian Bruch, CEO of Siemens Energy, said, “Building up a sustainable hydrogen economy will still require to amend the framework conditions in the energy market. However, it will be through partnerships and collaboration that we can shape this market. We highly appreciate to co-create innovative solutions with Air Liquide. Collectively we will overcome the challenges that lie ahead to industrialize the technology and make sustainably generated hydrogen a success story.”

The USA has not been left behind. Various power-to-gas projects are being planned. McDermott International, based in Houston, Texas revealed that its CB&I Storage Solutions green hydrogen business has been given a contract by New Jersey Natural Gas for the design and construction of a power-to-gas plant in the small town of Howell, New Jersey. Two projects in Utah are planning cleaner energy, firstly by converting a coal-power plant to a mixture of natural gas and clean hydrogen; the second is a large underground salt dome to store compressed hydrogen to feed into the grid on demand.

Hydrogen is part of the future which will involve both challenges and opportunities as utilities adapt to the need for cleaner, greener and more efficient energy.

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Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Feb 16, 2021

Creating hydrogen is inherently not very efficient nor particularly economic.
The infrastructure and technical problems with widespread use of hydrogen are legion.

The green religion has jumped upon hydrogen as a way to deal with the inherent intermittent unreliable nature of wind and solar. However, the already dismal economics of green energy only become more dismal with hydrogen production.

Companies are jumping on the hydrogen bandwagon as a way to make a lot of money with little risk, as the hapless taxpayer and consumer are forced to foot the bill.

To be blunt, the green-energy-king is not wearing any cloths and needs to stop conning the public. 

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