Hydrogen is used in refineries, fertilizers and plastic synthesis, but has good prospects
in the transport sector and to generate industrial heat. You could say that today’s society is fueled by the fact that hydrogen or natural gas fertilize the fields, one of the main reasons why agriculture has high CO2 emissions.
Producing hydrogen costs an energy equivalent to 342 nuclear reactors operating l . to spin
as 24 hours and seven days a weekfrom fossil fuels, but the hydrogen market is booming, with double-digit annual growth rates.
According to the report directed by Marcos Rupérez of OBS Business School, the goal is:
converts the entire world production of hydrogen in renewable and also increase. All international organizations plan that this will be the most installed technology in the future and therefore the current market for electrolysers and renewable hydrogen is an exploding industry with annual growth rates of double digits (%). The production rate of hydrogen obtained from renewable energy sources today is less than 0.03% of world production.
Currently, 80% of the energy we use in the world is non-electric and is mainly produced
by fossils such as oil, natural gas and coal. Climate change and the scarcity of these fossils make the energy transition essential, but electrifying the economy requires a wide variety of technologies and sectors. Hydrogen and its technologies can be a relevant actor providing solutions. However, this does not always come from renewable sources, in fact today fossil fuels are mostly used that emit CO2 in the process.
Global hydrogen consumption was approximately 90 Mt (million metric tons) in 2020 and 2% of all primary energy used by humans on Earth was used for its generation. Almost all of this hydrogen was generated from fossil fuels and therefore this hydrogen is the main candidate to be replaced by another produced without emitting CO2, the so-called “green hydrogen”, which is obtained from renewable sources by electrolysis or by gasification of organic matter.
Marcos Ruperez states that “it is of the utmost importance to establish a system of guarantees of origin that officially certifies the emissions associated with the production of hydrogen, as well as its origin.”
And the report’s data indicates that the rate of hydrogen production from electrolysis from renewables or other non-CO2 emitting sources is less than 0.03% of world production to date.
Today’s goal is to convert
hydrogen production around the world in renewable and also increase. All international organizations plan that this will be the most installed technology in the future and therefore the current market for electrolysers and renewable hydrogen is an exploding industry with annual growth rates of double digits (%).
Current costs of generating hydrogen through electrolysis are high, but economies of scale are expected to apply as electrolyser plants rapidly increase and fall to make non-CO2-emitting hydrogen competitive.
44% of all hydrogen consumption in the world, 40 Mt per year, is used
in oil refineries to modify the properties or convert the final petroleum products into other fuels. This hydrogen is usually generated in the factory itself from natural gas or crude oil itself and recombined on site with other streams. 37%, approximately 34 Mton, is used to generate ammonia for fertilizers. You could say that today’s society is fueled by the fact that hydrogen or natural gas fertilize the fields, a little known fact but one of the main reasons why agriculture has high CO2 emissions.
Another 12% of the world’s hydrogen, 11 million tons per year, is used to produce methanol, which is used in the chemical industry to
plastics, paints, resins and adhesives among other things. And it is also used in metallurgy to reduce iron oxide. A great future is predicted in this area, as it is one of the few reducing agents that does not emit CO2.
But in addition to its use in industry, hydrogen is being tested for heat generation. According to the OBS report, it seems that it can bring benefits in this area at the industrial level, but it will hardly prevail for
house heating because there are technologies like aerothermal or geothermal that are three to five times more efficient than any boiler, including hydrogen.
In the transportation sector, hydrogen is a very viable option because it weighs less than lithium batteries and has similar charging times to diesel. It appears to be a good option for long-distance freight, trains, ships and aircraft, for which it is also being considered.
the use of biofuels. Hydrogen can be integrated into other liquid and gaseous molecules that are easier to handle to create a fuel similar to diesel, called e-fuel; and it can also be stored in the ammonia molecule, a gas that is easier to manage and is considered one of the main fuels for future large ships.
There are already many different solutions in this sector and in the coming years the experience of pilot projects will determine which applications will use hydrogen, which electric batteries and which biofuels or other technologies.
To reach a planet with no net emissions, the UN plan implies a high implantation of hydrogen and as there are only 28 years between us from the stated date, “the boost to be given to hydrogen must be enormous”, says Ruperez. Many countries in the world are already translating into
Strategic plans their intentions, among which Chile stands out, aiming to install 25 GW of electrolysis by 2030, and the European Union, which as a whole plans to install 40 GW by the same date. “You have to understand that the challenge is huge, as there is currently less than 1% of that installed capacity,” Rupérez added.
One of the major limitations of the massive use of hydrogen is that the current natural gas network cannot be used to transport it, as hydrogen is much more corrosive to the materials of the pipes and valves, so it seems that
cannot be easily inserted more than 20% without changing the piping or the final applications. In addition, as the report’s author explains, “Introducing hydrogen into the natural gas network for any use ultimately means it will be used for applications such as boilers in homes where it is not the most efficient option for electrification and therefore a unnecessary waste of energy.” primary. Still, the energy sector is multifactorial, so efficiency may not be the determining factor.”
It is the intention that in 2030 green hydrogen will go from the current 2% to the assumption
between 8% and 24% of all primary consumption of world energy and therefore the hydrogen sector will certainly follow a growth path in the coming decade.
The European Commission believes that renewable hydrogen is the most compatible option with the EU’s long-term goal of climate neutrality and zero pollution. The choice for renewable hydrogen is based
in European industrial power in the production of electrolysers, which would create new jobs and economic growth in the EU and support an integrated and cost-effective energy system.
The Commission has published its roadmap, envisaging three phases up to the year 2050, with a program of necessary investments across the territory, with items moving in a maximum range of 919,200 and a minimum of 501,010 million euros. All this for the purpose
tackle Europe’s adaptation to position itself as a global power in the production and consumption of hydrogen.
Source: La Verdad