Hydrogen is the lowest density gas in the universe. In addition, we have it in abundance: it is contained in the water (H2O) and hydrocarbons such as methane (CH4). However, we cannot simply isolate and store it from nature, but it must be separated from the chemical compounds that contain it so that it can be produced as a usable fuel. In liquid form, hydrogen has a volume of 1: 800 in relation to the gaseous state.
When it comes in contact with atmospheric oxygen, hydrogen burns and releases energy to the environment because it has no carbon dioxide emissions. Its energy value of 120 MJ / kg is far higher than coal or gasoline (25 MJ / kg, or 47 MJ / kg). the only by-product of hydrogen combustion is water vapor. As a compressed gas or in liquid form, it can be used for energy storage for a longer period of time, and it can also be easily transported by road, pipeline, or tanker.
Hydrogen is currently more than twice as expensive as fossil fuels when it comes to industry, but with the development of technology as in other areas, prices will fall and the costs of production, transport, and use will be lower and more favorable.
A NEW ENERGY ERA
The new “energy era” should, above all, provide new, accessible energy sources, and in connection with that, new systems of distribution and use of new forms of energy. An intensive search for new renewable energy sources and alternative fuels, which would be used instead of oil and its derivatives, primarily in motor vehicles. All potentially possible forms of renewable energy are in circulation. We are working on the use of solar energy (solar energy), wind, tides, as well as thermal waters. When it comes to alternative fuels, research is focused on natural gas, biomass, and waste incineration. From an environmental point of view, most of these alternative fuels do not solve the problem of ozone depletion, although they are more environmentally friendly than gasoline and diesel fuel.
In these studies, special attention is paid to hydrogen. It is a realistic estimate that in the future the energy base will be hydrogen. When it will become the main energy source depends on how quickly and energetically the world community is able to give up oil and other fossil fuels, that is, how much it is able to accept hydrogen as the basic energy source and the basic energy source. If this is delayed, humanity will be completely unprepared to make a timely transition in the energy sector when the relationship between oil production and consumption reaches its critical limits.
That is why, within the UN Economic Commission for Europe, the document “Integral European Hydrogen Project” was adopted, which should, among other things, be the basis for the development of appropriate standards. At the same time, a “Consortium for the strategic solution of all issues of energy and alternative fuels for the transport sector” was formed in Germany, which, in addition to the state, also includes all large companies in the field of vehicle industry, energy and oil industry (BMW, Daimler Chrysler, VW, Opel and MAN, and then Aral, Shell, BP, RWE, and others). With the great support of the government In Germany, this consortium has developed an “Energy Strategy for the Transport Sector”, which determines the policy and system for the development of national energy on the basis of new energy sources. This document decisively states that hydrogen is the basic fuel for the future “sustainable” development of humanity, not only for motor vehicles and the transport sector but also for other consumers.
Similar program initiatives have been observed in the United States, Japan, China, and South Korea at the level of governments and large companies.
HYDROGEN FUEL OF THE FUTURE?
In order to achieve its goals, which are most often promoted under the names “climate neutrality” or “decarbonization”, the European Union pays special attention to the solutions that are most promising in this regard, regardless of whether they are the latest technical innovation or a well-known table or two hundred years. One of these solutions is based on the use of hydrogen as a fuel, the importance of which rests on low greenhouse gas emissions. Simultaneously with the decisions on the fight against the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission adopted a strategy for the integration of the energy system and a special one, dedicated to hydrogen as a strategy for a climate-neutral Europe. Energy system integration means that the system is planned and functions as a whole, connecting energy carriers, infrastructure, and consumer sectors. It is illustrated as a system in which the electricity that drives cars can come from solar panels on the roofs of buildings, which are heated by thermal energy from a nearby factory, which uses pure hydrogen, produced by electricity obtained from the wind on the nearby coast.
NORTH STREAM 2 WILL DELIVER HYDROGEN TO EUROPE!
As Europe shifts to hydrogen as an energy source, Russia has no choice but to follow that shift if it wants to maintain its position in the energy market as the continent’s largest exporter of oil and gas. According to the German Handelsblatt, the Russian Ministry of Energy has instructed Gazprom and Rosatom to create a roadmap to produce pure hydrogen by 2024. Much of Russia’s economy depends on oil, gas, and coal exports, and now the state administration has seen a historic opportunity to diversify Russia’s energy sector. Russia’s vast pipeline network will play a key role in bringing clean hydrogen to the market, and as is the case with fossil fuel exports, the main market will be Europe. In the existing gas pipelines, hydrogen can be mixed with a share of up to 20 percent, but Gazprom estimates that in new gas pipelines such as Nord Stream 2, the share of hydrogen will be up to 70 percent. Gazprom wants to develop and test a new hydrogen turbine as early as next year, and this will be very interesting for Germany within the emerging energy partnership between Siemens and Gazprom Energy Holding. For its part, Rosatom wants to launch a pilot project for hydrogen trains, especially a passenger train project on a route to the distant island of Sakhalin. And Gazprom’s calculation is impressive – the European hydrogen market is estimated at 153 billion euros by 2050.
OFFENSIVE ENERGY STRATEGY OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
To become climate-neutral by 2050, Europe must resolutely transform its energy system, from which three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions come. To this end, a document on hydrogen as a strategic fuel for achieving climate-neutral Europe was adopted. In an integrated energy system, hydrogen can support the decarbonization of industry, transport, buildings, and electricity generation across Europe. The strategy talks about how to exploit the potential of hydrogen as a fuel through investment, regulation, market creation, and research and innovation. The priority is the development of renewable hydrogen, produced using wind and solar energy, but in the short and medium-term other sources of hydrogen are needed in order to quickly reduce harmful emissions. This will be achieved in phases: from 2020 to 2024, the installation of at least 6 gigawatts of electrolyzers and production of up to one million tons of renewable hydrogen will be supported, from 2025 to 2030, hydrogen should become an integral part of the EU integrated energy system, with at least 40 gigawatts electrolyzers and the production of up to ten million tons of renewable hydrogen, from 2030 to 2050 hydrogen will be present in all sectors that are difficult to decarbonize. To support the implementation of this strategy, the EC has established the European Alliance for Clean Hydrogen with the participation of industry leaders, civil society, state ministers, and the European Investment bank.
MORE AND MORE COUNTRIES ARE ADOPTING GREEN HYDROGEN STRATEGIES
States are increasing, within ambitious strategies, using the potential of green hydrogen to decarbonize sectors where it is difficult to implement. The list of countries is growing, which includes the USA, Canada, France, Japan, Australia, Norway, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Chile, and Finland, as well as the mentioned European Union, with plans to stimulate hydrogen production.
The explosion of global interest in gas, which is predominantly produced today, with methane and coal has been taken into account in state policies. According to the International Energy Agency’s hydrogen project database, nearly 320 green hydrogen demonstration projects have been announced worldwide – a total of about 200 MW of electrolytic capacity – and new projects are being added almost weekly.
According to a key report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) last December, the cost of producing green hydrogen has already begun to fall, largely due to falling renewable energy costs but further reductions, especially the cost of electrolysis plants. , should fall from 40% in the short term to 80% in the long term.
Some countries already have hydrogen targets
For now, at least to provide clear long-term investment plans for green hydrogen, a number of countries have begun to strategically address these challenges.
The major hydrogen-producing states are California, Louisiana, and Texas. Today, almost all of the hydrogen produced in the United States is used for refining petroleum, treating metals, producing fertilizer, and processing foods.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) began using liquid hydrogen in the 1950s as rocket fuel, and NASA was one of the first to use hydrogen fuel cells to power the electrical systems on spacecraft.
As of the end of October 2020, there were about 161 operating fuel cells at 108 facilities in the United States with a total of about 250 megawatts (MW) of electric generation capacity. The largest is the Red Lion Energy Center in Delaware with about 25 MW total electric generation capacity, which uses hydrogen produced from natural gas to operate the fuel cells.
Interest in hydrogen as a transport fuel is based on its potential for domestic production and use in fuel cells for high-emission, zero-emission electric vehicles. A fuel cell is two to three times more efficient than a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine. The use of hydrogen in vehicles is the main focus of the research and development of fuel cells.
In the United States, several vehicle manufacturers have begun making electric vehicles with light hydrogen fuel cells available in select regions such as Southern and Northern California, where there is access to fuel stations.
China is aggressively encouraging the development of hydrogen and fuel cells and is on track to surpass development in the EU and the US with a focus on hydrogen buses and trucks. In the first seven months of 2019, the installed capacity of hydrogen fuel cells increased six times.
While some large oil and gas corporations on the sidelines are waiting for safer signs of government support, local and outside innovators have mobilized at an early stage across the country.
Hydrogen offers the Chinese government a way to achieve climate and pollution goals without increasing reliance on imported fuels. It also opens a new path for the development of manufactured goods of pure technology for export. The country hopes that hydrogen will make up 10% of China’s energy system by 2040.
The Hydrogen Strategy published in July 2020 sets explicit targets for electrolytic capacity of 6 GW by 2024 and 40 GW by 2030, as well as production targets of one million and 10 million tons of renewable hydrogen per year, respectively, for those two milestones (years).
Launched in December 2020, Canada’s hydrogen strategy predicts that by 2050, hydrogen will carry up to 30% of Canada’s final energy consumption. It envisions a hydrogen supply network, which could include large centralized plants in its provinces or regions rich in natural gas with a high penetration of cheap renewable sources, as well as less electrolysis production near demand centers. “It is planned to achieve the cost of delivered hydrogen of 1.50-3.50 USD per kg, when the production volume is realized and invested in the distribution infrastructure,” it is stated.
Japan became one of the first countries to implement a basic hydrogen strategy in 2017, and has since made concrete plans to become a “hydrogen society”. The strategy particularly seeks to achieve cost parity with competing fuels, such as liquefied natural gas for electricity generation. It also set specific cost-effectiveness targets per application, targeting electrolyzer costs of $ 475 / kW, the efficiency of 70% or 4.3 kWh / Nm3, and production costs of $ 3.30 / kg by 2030. Several international hydrogen trades. The hydrogen supply chain, for example, is dedicated to delivering hydrogen converted to coal gasification from Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia. The first ship with liquid hydrogen was delivered in December 2019, and the first shipment of blue ammonia (ammonia from carbon reforming with carbon capture) arrived in September 2020.
In January 2019, South Korea announced its strategy for the hydrogen economy, which emphasizes the goal of producing 6.2 million electric vehicles with fuel cells, introducing at least 1,200 charging stations by 2040, and delivering 15 GW of fuel cells to produce electricity by 2040. years.
Established in November 2019, the Australian National Hydrogen Strategy launched the “H2 below 2” target, which sets production costs below 2 AUD / kg (Australian dollars) of hydrogen. The strategy has already launched $ 370 million for state support and consideration in the country’s technology investment plan.
Chile launched its national strategy in November 2020, striving to become the world’s cheapest producer of green hydrogen and a leading exporter by 2030. Its strategy sets a target of 25 GW by 2030 with exceptional hydrogen production costs of less than $ 1.50 / kg.
It is likely that many countries will not be able to meet their renewable energy needs on their own, so they will have to import it. Germany, for example, will certainly be a big importer. It is estimated that the strongest European economy will have to import half of the hydrogen necessary to meet its needs.
An analysis of hydrogen demand shows that 40 GW will meet about half to two-thirds of European hydrogen demand, so half to one-third will have to be imported.
Only a few regions are switching to low-carbon hydrogen, primarily Japan, South Korea, and the United States. Countries that have plenty of sunlight or natural resources such as Russia, Morocco, Chile, and Australia will be exporters.
Hydrogen will be transported across the sea and oceans, roads, and pipelines. As for the latter solution, the existing gas pipelines will have to be modified, because the hydrogen molecules are extremely small, so they can easily “escape”.
Government investments around the world are motivated by increased interest in hydrogen as a sustainable alternative fuel, which can be used for a number of industrial purposes. Companies are responding with the introduction of sustainable solutions to be in line with plans that dictate a carbon-free future, which is ultimately massively adopted and supported by consumers as well.