The most efficient low-carbon hydrogen production pathway varies according to the availability of renewable energy sources and the capability of the existing infrastructure around the world. In regions where there is limited availability of renewable energy, such as North West Europe, providing reliable green hydrogen at scale can be achieved by the use of imported renewables, as well as local electrolysis operated on renewable power when available.
There can be no doubt that hydrogen will play a crucial role in decarbonising energy supply to industry. It is already widely used as a process gas, from metal processing to chemical production and glass manufacturing. Attention must now turn to how hydrogen’s potential as a low-carbon energy source can be unlocked and how its ability to decarbonise many more hard to abate sectors can be utilised.
So far, progress has been made, but it also needs to be financially viable. Financial support for hydrogen must be technology agnostic. End users, i.e. industry, should decide on the most efficient production pathways to ensure the most appropriate infrastructure is built for their needs. This will avoid leaving the UK’s industry with inefficient infrastructure once subsidies stop. In short, narrow production pathways risk leaving UK industry with a higher cost base for hydrogen than countries who are technology agnostic. This would, in turn, weaken the UK’s position on an international market.
By combining domestically produced and imported renewable energy to produce green hydrogen, there is an opportunity to propel the international hydrogen economy forward and build a globally-viable market more quickly. To deliver, there are three core areas that require immediate attention: supply, infrastructure, and market support.
Energy security and the global market
Consider the UK market as an example. Meeting the UK’s net zero ambitions will mean relying on a secure and diverse energy mix, for which all technologies will need to play a role. Green hydrogen produced with renewable ammonia can support the UK to decarbonise, while local electrolyser capacity can be established in parallel. However, it is worth noting that local production of renewable energy will always bring challenges as the UK does not have an abundance of wind and solar. Hydrogen plays an important role, not just as a strategic clean energy reserve, but as a product to generate economic growth for the country. The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero said the UK needs to be noted as a ‘world leader’ in investigating the use of hydrogen for a range of functions.¹ Recognising the opportunity, the UK government has set accelerated ambitions to grow the hydrogen market, including by using imports. In its ‘Hydrogen Strategy Update’ in July 2023, it set out a commitment to define a hydrogen standard and create a certification scheme by 2025, to ensure that high quality hydrogen, whether imported or locally produced, meets the same high standards. The results of this consultation will undoubtedly unlock opportunities for the hydrogen economy to grow.
Written by Manish Patel, Air Products, UK.
Read the article online at: https://www.globalhydrogenreview.com/special-reports/22122023/the-journey-to-a-hydrogen-future/
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