According to the IEA, 2021 is currently set to see closer to the equivalent of four 100MW electrolysers becoming operational across the entire year. Whichever solutions come out on top, the IEA illustrates the urgency of scaling them up quickly to tackle emissions from industry. This relies on a process that has remained roughly the same for more than a century. Iron ore is smelted in blast furnaces with coke, which is both the fuel and the reducing agent to remove oxygen and leave pure metal behind, emitting CO2. Its report also notes that, even in circumstances where it is technically possible to use batteries or hydrogen, electrification may still “represent the most sensible option”.
This is seen as a “low-regrets” way to reduce CO2 from heating and scale up hydrogen use. Others argue it can tackle the problem of decarbonising heat without disrupting peoples’ lives, at lower upfront cost and while reusing valuable gas distribution assets. They also point to constraints on the electricity grid, which might need upgrading to cope with fully electrified heat. But as the EU ploughs ahead with its hydrogen strategy, it has committed to investing in the production of “innovative technologies”, such as PEM, in a bid to keep its economy competitive and bring prices down. This analysis is based on proton exchange membrane electrolysers, which, unlike the more widely used alkaline electrolysers, are able to quickly ramp up and capture curtailed energy. Low-carbon hydrogen could be critical to decarbonising all of these applications, but its success will depend on competition with gas using CCS and biomass, both of which could also be used to cut emissions from industry.
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This means businesses will need to seek low-carbon hydrogen sources in order to decarbonise. Burning hydrogen could reach the high temperatures needed to manufacture cement, avoiding fossil fuel combustion which currently accounts for a third of its emissions. However, green steel is likely to still need considerable support from governments, potentially including an emissions trading scheme that supports the switch and quotas for green steel. Scaling up low-carbon hydrogen production for these existing sources of demand alone would be a significant undertaking, due to the sheer volumes required. Nevertheless, the fact that this demand already exists means some of these sectors could be relatively “low-hanging fruit” for decarbonisation. To get there, the gas they use must be replaced with hydrogen from low-carbon sources.
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Hydrogen or hydrogen-based fuels, such as ammonia, could, therefore, be crucial for net-zero goals. 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. However, even though heavy-duty vehicles are a significant source of emissions and also a “hard-to-decarbonise” sector, the switch to fuel cells is not a foregone conclusion. Japan has announced plans to get 800,000 hydrogen fuel cell vehicles onto its roads by 2030 and South Korea says it will go even higher with 1.8m. For example, green hydrogen made in the UK might cost $3.20/kg in 2030, versus US$1.70/kg in Portugal and $1.30/kg in Saudi Arabia. But the cost of transporting the fuel – some $2.70-4/kg, according to the IEA – would mean the imported option remains more expensive.
The planes would rely on hydrogen combustion with some support from hydrogen fuel cells. A literature review of research into climate-friendly trucking found virtually every study that included these “catenary” wires concluded this was the preferable decarbonisation technology, outperforming hydrogen fuel cells. The hydrogen fuel cell vehicle industry has how to use currency pairs correlation in forex trading been limited by a “chicken-and-egg” problem. Not enough cars have been produced to bring prices down and the lack of demand means hydrogen refuelling stations, which are expensive, have not been widely installed. As of 2019, there were just 11,200 passenger vehicles running on hydrogen fuel cells in operation, mostly in California, Europe and Japan.
Blue hydrogen can do the job of decarbonising the non-electric sector starting now”. Proponents of blue hydrogen argue that it is necessary for net-zero as it is both more immediately available and allows for better use of renewable electricity resources in the short term. Interest waned as the embargo lifted, new fossil fuels were exploited and oil prices fell. The next “false dawn” of the hydrogen economy came in the 1990s, when carmakers in particular poured investment into the technology. Airbus has released three concepts for the ”world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft”, which the company wants to enter service by 2035.
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It could heat homes, balance electricity grids and help heavy industry to make everything from steel to cement. As a leading global aerospace company, Boeing develops, manufactures and services commercial airplanes, defense products and space systems for customers in more than 150 countries. As a top U.S. exporter, the company leverages the talents of a global supplier base to advance economic opportunity, sustainability and community impact. Boeing’s diverse team is committed to innovating for the future and living the company’s core values of safety, quality and integrity.
- Whichever solutions come out on top, the IEA illustrates the urgency of scaling them up quickly to tackle emissions from industry.
- Climate change has been a consistent theme in hydrogen discussions, but concerns about oil supply and price have dominated and road vehicles have been seen as the main target market.
- Even though hydrogen is expected to play a lesser role than electricity in reaching net-zero emissions, its production and use could still need to scale up dramatically from today.
- The cost of transporting hydrogen via pipelines increases rapidly with distance, whereas when using a ship the starting cost is much higher but remains relatively stable with increasing distances.
- This means hydrogen could help reinforce and connect the largely separate energy systems that are used today for heat, power, industry and transportation, an idea known as “sector coupling”.
Ultimately, fuel costs are expected to have the biggest impact on future hydrogen prices, meaning the most significant drivers of the relative success of green and blue hydrogen will be future electricity and gas costs. Upstream emissions could significantly alter the climate impact of blue hydrogen, as highlighted in a report which accounts for these leakages, by the Pembina Institute thinktank. It focuses on Canada, where plans are underway to ramp up blue hydrogen production in the fossil fuel-rich province of Alberta. A report by energy trade expert Ralf Dickel for the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies concluded that overreliance on green hydrogen would mean “cannibalising the success of renewable electricity in the power sector…And for what?
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Jon Hunt, manager of alternative fuels at Toyota, tells Carbon Brief that while they are also pushing electric vehicles they, ultimately, see fuel-cell cars being “as attainable as hybrids”. A recent Hydrogen Council report concluded that a “radical” increase in production to around 1m cars each year will be necessary to make fuel-cell vehicles competitive. Nevertheless, mobility is currently the smallest component in the entire hydrogen market, representing less than 0.1% of global demand. In theory, hydrogen has the potential to decarbonise everything from the steel used to make someone’s car to the gas heating their home. In its strategy, Germany proposed a modest 14 terawatt-hours of its 110TWh requirements for green hydrogen coming from within its borders by 2030.
Fleischanderl also emphasises the importance of a carbon border adjustment mechanism in Europe to enable green steel to compete with cheap imports from China, the world’s largest steel producer. Hydrogen-powered trains are being rolled out slowly, with two operating in Germany and trials taking place in the UK and Austria. However, if the CO2 used to create the fuel had been captured in a power plant it could theoretically cut overall emissions, because each molecule of CO2 would be used twice. However, Mao conducted a modelling study earlier this year that found 99% of the container ships travelling the busy route between China and the US could be powered by hydrogen “with only minor changes to fuel capacity or operations”. Another report by maritime organisation Lloyds Register concluded in 2019 that “there is still uncertainty when choosing one fuel, one technology and one route”. Toyota has plans to scale up global sales of electric and hybrid cars to 5.5m in 2025, while sales of hydrogen cars remain in the tens of thousands.
Many energy experts are dismissive of the idea of hydrogen playing a large role in decarbonising building heat, because it is far less efficient than electric heat pumps, making it more costly to run. While China, the world’s biggest electrolyser producer, has pioneered the production of relatively cheap alkaline electrolysers, PEM electrolysers are currently too expensive to produce cost-competitive hydrogen from curtailed power. On the other hand, as Gniewomir Flis of Agora Energiewende has pointed out, declining electrolyser costs could help hydrogen from curtailed power compete with fossil fuel hydrogen. Second, electrolysers could be used to produce hydrogen using “curtailed” electricity generation that would otherwise go to waste during particularly sunny or windy periods when renewable supply exceeds demand. First, it has been proposed as a flexible source of potentially low-carbon electricity that can be used to complement grids dominated by variable renewables, such as wind and solar. Another “hard-to-decarbonise” sector that could benefit from the introduction of hydrogen is cement.
In a press conference launching the strategy, European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans described “clean” hydrogen as “crucial” for the EU’s “green deal”, which targets net-zero emissions by 2050. Low efficiency is another significant challenge, with more energy being wasted at each step in the production and use of hydrogen than for many alternatives. This vision would see the sun’s energy – in the form of solar radiation and wind – turned into https://day-trading.info/ hydrogen, using electrolysis, and then transported around the world. Now, as nations come forward with net-zero strategies to align with their international climate targets, hydrogen has once again risen up the agenda from Australia and the UK through to Germany and Japan. The S&P 500 index consists of most but not all of the largest companies in the United States. It is a commonly used benchmark for stock portfolio performance in America and abroad.
Another big factor when considering the cost of hydrogen is transport, as moving the gas around is more challenging and expensive than moving methane. In that case, ORE says, green hydrogen could be cheaper than blue by 2030, “approximately 20 years ahead of our forecast”. There are several factors that can contribute to different outlooks for the cost of hydrogen production.
Hydrogen features more strongly in BP’s latest energy outlook, building on “more comprehensive modelling of the role that hydrogen and bioenergy may play in the energy transition”. Former UK government adviser Guy Newey has argued that “in many ways hydrogen the big winner” after the UK raised its ambition from an 80% emissions cut by 2050 to 100%. This is supported by research showing a correlation between a scenario’s ambition and hydrogen uptake. Acknowledging the “flurry” of recent national hydrogen strategies in a recent Environmental Audit Committee hearing, UK business secretary Alok Sharma said the government expected to release its own “early on next year ”. Under pressure to keep up with European neighbours, UK ministers have said they will soon announce a “world-leading” hydrogen strategy to help reach its 2050 net-zero goal.
As with shipping, the European Commission report concluded that for any of these options to scale up and compete with alternatives such as biofuels, a long-term policy framework and significant research funding will be required. According to the IEA, if every car, truck and bus currently in operation was replaced with a fuel-cell vehicle, hydrogen demand could reach 300Mt each year, more than four times current levels for all uses. The hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai costs £66,000 ($88,015), compared to the battery electric Tesla Model 3 at around £45,000 ($60,010), or a medium-sized conventional UK car which tends to fall in the range of £22,000-£36,000 ($29,338-48,008). There is enthusiasm from many industry actors for hydrogen to succeed in the transport sector and it is already being applied in some niche markets. This section breaks down how hydrogen could be applied in transport, industry, heating and the power sector to help them achieve net-zero emissions.
By 2070, in a scenario keeping warming well-below 2C, the IEA sees hydrogen meeting 13% of final energy demand, with this total spread unevenly between sectors. Hydrogen would meet large shares of energy use in shipping and aviation, but hardly any for buildings, as shown below right. Graphic by Tom Prater.Some advocates for a hydrogen economy describe an expansive vision of the future where it replaces most of the societal, economic and geopolitical positions now occupied by fossil fuels.
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Start-up leisure specialist Canada Jetlines is exploring a potential partnership with Qatar Airways that could include non-stop flights between Toronto and Qatar’s capital city of Doha. Also secured rights for 105 more planes through 2030, ensuring access to sufficient aircraft for fleet replacement and growth. This agreement represents the largest commitment for future aircraft in the airline’s history.
It is a similar story when comparing electric heat pumps with hydrogen boilers, or when looking at the efficiency of storing excess electricity in the form of hydrogen for later use. In its 2019 report, the IEA adds industrial development and skilled jobs to the list of potential advantages for hydrogen. It says hydrogen is flexible and versatile, able to act as a fuel, as well as an energy carrier between locations and – via storage – between different times of day or year. And it can be used to make fertiliser, fuel vehicles, heat homes, generate electricity or drive heavy industry. In the most optimistic outlooks, hydrogen could soon power trucks, planes and ships.
In the longer term, the very high temperatures of advanced nuclear reactors could directly extract hydrogen from water by thermochemical splitting. If this were all made using electrolysis, it would require 36,000 terawatt hours of electricity. BP notes that the use of hydrogen in this pathway is at the “top end of the range” of IPCC scenarios, where demand is between 15-60EJ at the point when emissions reach net-zero.