Green Hydrogen: A game-changer in the clean energy landscape

  • Industry News
  • Sep 07,23
Global collaboration on the production and supply of green hydrogen is expected to be a key topic at the G-20 summit in New Delhi this week.
Green Hydrogen: A game-changer in the clean energy landscape

Green hydrogen is gaining worldwide attention as a promising clean energy solution aimed at mitigating carbon emissions in high-polluting sectors like transportation and industrial manufacturing.

Earlier this year, the International Solar Alliance, led by India, inaugurated the Green Hydrogen Innovation Centre, while India itself allocated $2.3 billion for the production, utilization, and export of green hydrogen. Global collaboration on the production and supply of green hydrogen is expected to be a key topic at the G-20 summit in New Delhi this week.

What is Green Hydrogen?

Hydrogen is generated by separating it from other elements within molecules where hydrogen is naturally found. For example, water (H2O), consisting of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, can be divided into its constituent elements through a process called electrolysis. When this production process is powered by renewable energy sources, the resulting hydrogen is referred to as green hydrogen.

Analysts project that the global market for green hydrogen will surpass $410 billion by 2030, more than doubling its current market size. However, critics argue that the feasibility of green hydrogen on a large scale and its "green" attributes depend on the source of energy used for its production.

Applications of Green Hydrogen

Green hydrogen has a diverse range of applications across various industries, including steelmaking, concrete production, chemical and fertilizer manufacturing, electricity generation, transportation fuel, and heating for residential and commercial buildings. While hydrogen is primarily used today in refining petroleum and producing fertilizers, its adoption in these sectors can significantly reduce emissions.

Francisco Boshell, an energy analyst at the International Renewable Energy Agency, is optimistic about green hydrogen's role in the clean energy transition, particularly in sectors like aviation, shipping, and some industrial processes where energy from renewable sources like solar and wind may not be readily storable or usable via batteries.

However, hydrogen's volatility and the need for specialized pipelines for safe transport limit its application in decentralised settings like residential heating, according to the Energy Transitions Commission. Additionally, hydrogen is less efficient than direct electrification, as energy is lost during the conversion of renewables to hydrogen and then back to power, as stated in the report.

While some studies have raised concerns about the high production costs, investment risks, increased water usage compared to other clean power sources, and the absence of international standards hindering a global market, Boshell and the International Renewable Energy Agency remain bullish on green hydrogen's potential.

Debates and future prospects

Robert Howarth, a professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell University, suggests that green hydrogen may be overhyped, partly due to lobbying efforts by the oil and gas industry.

In contrast, Boshell believes that hydrogen demand will rise to 550 million tons by 2050, up from the current 100 million tons. The International Energy Agency reports that hydrogen production is responsible for approximately 830 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. Boshell emphasises the importance of initially replacing the existing demand for gray hydrogen (hydrogen produced from fossil fuels) and then expanding green hydrogen's applications in various industries, shipping, and aviation to establish a stable and sustainable market for clean hydrogen.

Source: Livemint

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