Hydrogen in the Energy Transition

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Authors: Massimiliano A. Cervo, Natalia Catalano

The concept of energy transition refers to a change of paradigm both in production and consumption of global energy. Having reached complicated levels regarding global warming and also observing its consequences in different parts of the world, it is clear that greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) are responsible for global warming and that 2/3 come from energy production and use. The energy transition is focused on reducing emissions and increasing energy production from carbon-free energy sources.

Paris Agreement’s second article talks about maintaining the global average temperature rise below 2° Celsius compared to the pre-industrial levels and trying to make an effort to limit such temperature at 1.5° Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, asserting that such measure would considerably reduce the risks and effects of climate change.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, renewable energy and energy efficiency can provide 90% of the needed mitigation in the energy system by 2050, reaching the target set on the Paris Agreement.

Clearly, hydrogen is setting a new trend in the energy markets, being a key energy vector for this energy transition, and also a key player for a more sustainable future.

Massimiliano A. Cervo

To achieve such targets, governments should begin to pay attention to this issue, understanding that future generations depend on this, consequently leading to short term actions regarding energy policies.

Turning into the industry sector, one possible short-term solution would be implementing circular economic models. Such strategies consider using waste from the feedstock, production, and processes and reutilizing them in other processes, reducing waste, increasing efficiency, and also generating revenue.

Having said this, we can imply that energy transition would also be about circular economies. Acknowledging that they can also contribute to GHG emissions, and this is where sub-products or captive hydrogen begins to shine. Hydrogen can be a solution both for energy production and also developing circular economic models from gas flows with carbon capture.

In this context is that hydrogen as an energy vector can collaborate in GHG reduction, being produced from renewables, increasing the efficiency of processes, and taking advantage of renewables peaks and being a circular model for curtailment. There have been many hydrogen hypes, that lasted for short periods of time and then vanished. This was due to a lack of border conditions.

Saudi Aramco & Air Products are installing 4 GW of renewable energy capacity. This will be equal to producing 650 daily tons of green hydrogen, a quantity that would be able to provide clean fuel to around 20 thousand fuel cell powered electric buses.

Nevertheless, this time is different, given that the world needs to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and many companies and countries are looking for more secure energy systems. Another fact that helps impulse hydrogen is the drop in the leveled cost of renewable energy, the same as the technologies involved in electrolysis hydrogen production.

Saudi Aramco, together with Air products has joined forces to build the largest hydrogen project, with an initial renewable energy capacity of 4 GW. Such capacity will be able of producing 650 daily tons of green hydrogen, a quantity that would be able to provide clean fuel to around 20 thousand fuel cell electric buses. Such fuel can also be distributed for export in the way of ammonia. These kinds of investments are increasing on a daily basis, thanks to the stimulus plans from several governments that have begun to include hydrogen in their long-term energy strategies.

Hydrogen can be a solution both for energy production and also developing circular economic models from gas flows with carbon capture.

Clearly, hydrogen is setting a new trend in the energy markets, being a key energy vector for this energy transition, and also a key player for a more sustainable future.


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