Hydrogen energy produced using renewables is a hot topic in sustainable energy discussions.
Hydrogen energy produced using renewables is a hot topic in sustainable energy discussions. A new report by IRENA brings some clarity into the real-life prospects of green hydrogen.
Green hydrogen is hydrogen generated with the help of renewable energy. Titled “Hydrogen: a renewable energy perspective”, the report suggests that by 2050 green hydrogen could account for 5% of energy consumption and use 16% of electricity produced globally.
The authors emphasize the potential of green hydrogen to decarbonize a number of sectors that have previously struggled to curb CO2 emissions. This includes energy-intensive industries like iron and steel, chemicals and transportation. Those sectors will benefit both from hydrogen and the liquid fuels such as synthetic jet fuel derived from it.
Still, many questions are yet to be answered about investment risks, social impacts, benefits for energy systems and cost-effectiveness. The pace of change might also be limited by the prevalence of fossil-fuel-based (grey) hydrogen production worldwide.
Meanwhile, blue hydrogen obtained using fossil-fuels paired with negative emissions tech is not carbon-free, requiring verification of its actual carbon profile provided by certification systems and regulations. Losses during transport and conversion also require improvements to make green hydrogen a highly competitive option.
Supportive legislative frameworks, such as pricing carbon emissions, will be crucial for overcoming roadblocks. The authors point out the potential of hydrogen to catalyze demand for renewables. This could help create a positive feedback loop as the falling costs of renewables and electrolyzers, essential for green hydrogen production, make it an increasingly attractive investment.
The change will require time to happen, however, considering the need for new infrastructure and electrification. The authors see the refurbishment of old infrastructures, such as gas pipelines, as a possible option. Its potential, however, is yet to be explored.
Overall, the report emphasizes the highly potent role green hydrogen can play in achieving a transition to sustainable energy systems. The transition will greatly depend on improved efficiency and long-term focus to boost green hydrogen’s prospects.