However, for heavy-duty trucks and intercity coaches that have high power demands and need to cover long distances, direct electrification using batteries is more challenging. Japanese and Korean car manufacturers Toyota and Hyundai have announced ambitious plans to scale up their production. Toyota recently launched a new version of its Mirai – the Japanese word for “future” – despite low sales of the previous model. While there have been attempts to get fuel-cell vehicles into the mass market, Dudenhöffer says it is now widely accepted this is unlikely to happen.
The same report concluded that hydrogen combustion could cut each flight’s overall climate impact by 50-75%, accounting for non-CO2 impacts including water vapour, soot and nitrogen oxides as well. Hydrogen requires at least five times more storage volume than oil-based fuels and there are concerns it could eat into cargo storage and, therefore, profits. To reach the International Maritime Organization’s target of a sector-wide 50% emissions cut by 2050 compared to 2008, industry figures have agreed that commercially viable zero-emission vessels must enter the global fleet by 2030. Patrik Akerman, head of business development at Siemens eHighway, sees these vehicles as a “risky bet”, if you assume battery electric cars have “won the race against fuel-cell cars”. The fate of fuel-cell cars is, to some extent, wrapped up with larger road vehicles, where there could be greater demand for hydrogen.
- He adds that there are some sectors, such as long-haul shipping, which are unlikely to switch to batteries, making their need for green hydrogen even greater.
- Hydrogen can be stored by compressing it into underground salt caverns or depleted fossil fuel sites, blended with fossil gas or used to produce other fuels.
- Hydrogen in ships could be either burned in engines or used to generate electricity in fuel cells, but both options would require expensive new infrastructure to transport and store the gas on ships.
- While Lowes and others support large hydrogen trials to evaluate the potential of the fuel, they warn that this work should not be used as an excuse to avoid making progress with other options.
- According to the report, the one model study that has evaluated the global warming potential of hydrogen arrived at a value of 4.3.
However, hydrogen can be used when energy needs to be stored for days or weeks as batteries suffer from self-discharge over longer time periods. In the short term, batteries tend to provide a superior storage system, with round-trip efficiency of more than 80%, compared to 35-41% for hydrogen. Hydrogen is also a major feedstock for the chemical industry, particularly to make ammonia for fertilisers and methanol for solvents, adhesives and various other substances.
This is where hydrogen could step in, according to analysts including the CCC and BNEF. All of this means that industry, particularly oil refining, ammonia and methanol production, currently makes up the bulk of hydrogen demand. As it stands, the vast majority of hydrogen is not green or blue, but instead is made using fossil fuels without any carbon capture. Production methods based on coal, lignite and gas without carbon capture and storage are termed “black”, “brown” and “grey”, respectively. These early efforts were edged out as electricity demand grew in other sectors and cheap fossil fuels became available for hydrogen production. Nevertheless, there have since been several “hype cycles” and government drives to get hydrogen off the ground.
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The IEA also says there is a risk of a chicken-and-egg situation because of the complexity of hydrogen supply and value chains, which makes gradual deployment more difficult. Green-hydrogen electrolysis facility at the voestalpine integrated steel plant in Linz, Austria. For example, Google’s parent company Alphabet has Class A and Class C shares in the index. Crypto Rallies Amid Banking Crisis See which crypto tokens and stocks are picking up steam as this week’s banking crisis unfolds.IBD Digital Extended Access Sale Loved IBD Digital Free Access?
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As a result, there is a broad range of hydrogen use in pathways that model how the world – and individual countries or regions – can cut their emissions to avoid dangerous climate change. Just how dramatically hydrogen expands will depend on policy decisions, societal choices, relative costs and technical performance, across each potential application of the fuel. Japan, in particular, has been exploring hydrogen as an energy source since the 1970s and in its 2017 hydrogen strategy announced plans to build the first “hydrogen-based society”.
In-depth Q&A: Does the world need hydrogen to solve climate change?
As a globally traded commodity, hydrogen could then remake the map of geopolitics, ending reliance on fossil fuel exporting nations and improving energy security for importers. This chart suggests meeting peak heat demand with electricity could require a massive increase in the size of the power system, with peak electricity demand rising as much as five- or six-fold. Globally, some 41% of building heat currently comes from burning gas, the IEA says, with wide variation from country to country. This is shown in the chart, below, with gas supplying around 80% of heat in the Netherlands and the UK, but closer to zero in Nordic countries. At a recent EurActiv event, European Commission energy adviser Tudor Constantinescu said he saw such hydrogen-derived fuels playing “a very important role” in a fully decarbonised economy. As for industrial processes that already rely heavily on hydrogen, while efficiency improvements may curb some of their demand, overall it is expected to grow.
This would be reduced further with the energy efficiency improvements required on the road to net-zero. He points to practical challenges for heat pumps, including the need to upgrade building energy efficiency, replace radiators and find space for hot water tanks and heat pump equipment. Some countries have already made rapid strides towards decarbonising the provision of heat, using electricity or district heating. IRENA states that this “can significantly help improve the economics of hydrogen production” and also provide revenues for renewable asset owners.
Heat for buildings
Another recent study is the International Energy Agency Energy Technology Perspectives, published in September 2020. This sees hydrogen use meeting less than 7% of final energy demand in 2050, of which transport (44%), industry (28%), power (19%) and buildings (9%). The company’s more recent “new energy outlook” sees 800m tonnes of hydrogen being used in 2050 to meet a quarter of final global energy demand, while keeping warming to well-below 2C. Its “net-zero” pathway – which BP says is broadly in line with 1.5C scenarios – sees hydrogen use reaching 58 exajoules by 2050 and meeting around 15% of final global energy demand. For example, replacing fossil gas for building heat would rely on the availability of large quantities of low-carbon hydrogen and suitably upgraded infrastructure to distribute and safely burn the fuel. According to the IEA, heat use in buildings accounts for more than 20% of global final energy demand, including space heating, hot water and cooking.
An issue with connecting electrolysers directly to variable renewables is that they will not operate all the time, leading to higher costs for the resulting hydrogen. Another key factor is the rollout of electrolysers used to produce the green hydrogen, which have already fallen in price by 60% over the past decade. According to the European Commission, prices “are expected to halve in 2030 compared to today with economies of scale”. The chart below shows that under “optimistic” assumptions by BNEF, the cheapest renewable hydrogen could outcompete even the cheapest low-carbon hydrogen from gas by 2030.
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A review of the options from the UK Energy Research Centre concludes that “electrification and energy efficiency remain the two main strategies for decarbonising the building sector”. Moreover, heat pumps work by drawing warmth from outside air, multiplying the energy used to run them by two or three times, depending on device performance and ambient temperatures. BNEF’s Meredith Annex says using hydrogen for heat is an “expensive use case” and that the fuel “struggles” relative to heat pumps, even on a total cost-of-ownership basis. Internationally, there are at least 37 projects testing the blending of hydrogen into existing gas grids, thought to be safe up to 20% by volume without changes for consumers.
Falling costs of renewables have brought a fresh wave of enthusiasm as the abundant, low-cost power many see as a prerequisite for hydrogen’s success now appears achievable. An early example of this came from hydrogen electrolysers of more than 100 megawatts built from the 1920s to supply the fertiliser industry, using cheap hydropower in places such as Norway and India. Looking at the global studies in the chart, above, the lowest levels of hydrogen use are in the IPCC’s 2018 special report on 1.5C. This low uptake is likely to partly reflect the age of the modelling literature available at the time, with hydrogen likely to have been considered costly.
CO2 from the chemical process of cement production makes up 3% of global emissions, although this does not include emissions from energy inputs involved. Swedish steel company SSAB is running the HYBRIT project, which it says will achieve “fossil-free steel products” from 2026 and enable it to eradicate fossil fuels from all its operations by 2045. Specifically, the report cited the need for eight times the storage volume for hydrogen fuel compared to diesel, as well as the fact that, to date, no hydrogen-powered freight or high-speed trains are available. Although Boeing itself launched the first-ever hydrogen aircraft in 2008, Sinnett cited limits to hydrogen production and storage as barriers for commercial applications. The gas could be directly combusted, used to power fuel cells or combined with CO2 to create liquid synthetic fuels similar to kerosene, which would require relatively few changes in existing infrastructure. Aviation and shipping are responsible for around 5% of global emissions and are also difficult to electrify.
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Boeing 737 MAX in heel Europa aan de grond, TUI zet andere ….
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A newer production method called direct reduced iron uses hydrogen gas as the reducing agent. Hydrogen can be injected into these furnaces as a fuel, cutting emissions by up to 20%. This technique, which is being tested by German steel producer Thyssenkrupp, still ultimately relies on coal for reduction of the ore. Ultimately, mandates requiring ships to cut emissions, effective carbon pricing and low-carbon fuel standards are among proposals that will likely be required to make these alternatives competitive. “We…believe that it will make more sense to convert hydrogen to methanol or ammonia and use this as a fuel,” he says.
As a comparison, the global battery electric car fleet exceeds 7m, after reaching the first million just five years ago. A report by Aurora Energy Research concluded that in a scenario with high hydrogen demand, green hydrogen is “significantly more expensive than blue”. A report by industry group the Hydrogen Council concludes that “low-carbon” hydrogen, including both green and blue, would be competitive in 22 hydrogen applications comprising around 15% of global energy consumption by 2030. The CCC’s net-zero technical report for the UK says that low-carbon hydrogen could be produced from fossil gas with emissions of around 0.3kgCO2 per kg, with a 95% capture rate. By comparison, the IEA estimates 0.9kgCO2 per kg of hydrogen with a 90% capture rate, as shown in the chart above. The IEA chart below shows the emissions that still arise from the use of fossil fuels with CCS, compared to electrolysis driven by renewables or nuclear power.
Despite its acknowledged uncertainty, the IEA states that the cost of green hydrogen is on a clear downwards trajectory and could fall 30% by 2030 “as a result of declining costs of renewables and the scaling up of hydrogen production”. Meanwhile, some campaigners and scientists have argued that blue hydrogen locks nations into a future of fossil fuel use and methane emissions leakages, meaning it should be avoided altogether. Blue hydrogen, on the other hand, is generally produced by reacting methane gas with steam and then capturing and storing the resulting CO2 emissions. In steam methane reforming, the most common method, fossil gas is both burned to fuel the process and used as the feedstock. In a pathway that limits warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels and energy use overall is much lower, BNEF sees hydrogen meeting 24% of final global energy demand, as shown in the chart above.
Carbon Brief analysed hydrogen use in a range of deep decarbonisation scenarios to gauge the level of adoption overall and in specific end-use sectors. Energy companies, such as Shell and BP, are also coming forward with hydrogen plans, committing to deploying low-carbon hydrogen projects as components of their net-zero emissions goals. The competition over this market and rush to fund new projects was dubbed “the hydrogen wars” by one energy professional recently speaking to Bloomberg. The map below illustrates current and planned hydrogen capacity around the world and shows how Europe is currently leading with its plans for future production.
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Germany alone has said it will spend €9bn on clean hydrogen production and exporting the technology overseas, but with the same target of 5GW domestic capacity by 2030. For context, between 2000 and 2019, a 10 best sql server dba developer jobs hiring now! total capacity of just 0.25GW of green hydrogen projects was deployed globally, according to consultancy Wood Mackenzie. The map below is based on updated analysis by the council shared with Carbon Brief.
Meanwhile, the International Renewable Energy Agency has asserted that “future costs of green hydrogen will be below those for blue hydrogen fossil fuels”. It says that hydrogen from low-cost renewables will be comparable with blue hydrogen https://day-trading.info/ from fossil fuels within five years. In a hydrogen economy, hydrogen would be used in place of the fossil fuels that currently provide four-fifths of the world’s energy supply and emit the bulk of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Nevertheless, nations may require imported hydrogen if they lack sufficient renewable resources to generate enough on their own soil. Flis tells Carbon Brief that using IEA estimates, or even using more optimistic transport cost assumptions from the Japanese research agency Nedo, imported hydrogen may struggle to compete with domestically sourced supplies. However, these imports may end up not being particularly cheap, owing to the high costs of transporting hydrogen around the world in special containers at high pressures and low temperatures. It then points to indicators that offshore wind and electrolyser costs could fall more rapidly than expected, noting that “decision-makers have been continually blind-sided by the unexpectedly rapid fall in the costs of wind and solar energy”. An assessment of recent cost studies by Dr Jan Rosenow from the Regulatory Assistance Project shows the range of estimates that have been made for green hydrogen, with most centring around $2 to $4/kg.
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