Challenges for Green Hydrogen
Despite the Green H2 potential to replace non-renewable energy sources in short, medium and long terms, there are issues that still need to be overcome for the application of the Green H2 technology.
The cheaper the energy utilized to generate green hydrogen, the most viable it will be to expand the production chain. Investments in increase of scale and efficiency in the production of wind and solar energy are being directed towards the regions with the most potential in the planet.
In this context, China, Mongolia, Australia, Morocco and Chile stand out.
An integrated commercial plant will be built in the latter for industrial-scale production of climate-neutral fuel (e-fuel), from the combination of hydrogen produced from wind power and CO2 captured from the air. Named “Haru Oni”, the project will have investments from the German federal government in the order of € 8.23 million and it counts on several international partners.
Nowadays, green hydrogen is two to three times more expensive than blue hydrogen. It is estimated that the production costs for green hydrogen could fall by up to 62% until 2030, to something close to a level from US$ 1.4 to US$ 2.3 per kg. If this occurs, the parity between the cost of green hydrogen and the one of gray hydrogen can happen somewhere between 2028 and 2034 – with projections below US$ 1 per kg in 2040.
Distribution and storage
Green hydrogen is an advantageous and safe alternative for storing excess amounts of wind and solar energy. It is just necessary to direct what is left of them to perform electrolysis, generate hydrogen gas and store it. It is worth stressing out that hydrogen can also be generated by other processes such as biomass reformation and gasification. In addition to avoiding the waste of clean energy, this conversion is a way of maintaining regularity in the supply of two types of energy, whose production capacity fluctuates according to changes in the environment.
There are challenges regarding the storage of hydrogen in tanks due to its high volatility and flammability, but there are also safer options to keep it stored, such as liquefying it, diluting it in natural gas or even adding it to ammonia – in this case, it can be extracted from ammonia at the final destination.
Natural gas pipelines already installed can transmit the diluted hydrogen (20% H2 and the rest being natural gas) through distances that can be longer than 5 thousand km. The potential of energy transmission in these pipelines is ten times greater than that of an electric line and at one eighth of the cost.
The transportation sector generates 24% of the global CO2 emissions due to the burning of fossil fuels like gasoline and diesel oil. Of this amount, ¾ are emitted by cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles. For this reason, over then 20 countries are working in order to bring the sales of polluting vehicles to zero by 2035.
The global automotive industry’s goals are to have 4.5 million vehicles powered by clean battery in circulation by 2030 – with China, Japan and South Korea ahead. In parallel, the construction of 10.5 thousand hydrogen filling stations is projected for this new automotive fleet.
In maritime transportation, the green hydrogen’ synthesis produces the green ammonia, that can propel cargo ships, being the best cost-benefit result for the decarbonization of containers traffic until 2030.
For the aviation sector, the challenge is to develop a technology that is capable of propelling from small to large aircrafts with liquid hydrogen. Another option is to replace aviation kerosene with synthetic fuels, produced from green hydrogen, which emit less carbon.