Green hydrogen: an alternative for decarbonizing Earths future


One of the targets that countries around the world have set for 2050 is to decarbonize the planet.

To do this, one of the keys is to decarbonize the production of an element such as hydrogen, resulting in green hydrogen, as this is actually responsible for more than 2 percent of total global CO2 emissions.

The latest forecasts released at the end of 2019 by the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecast that global energy demand would rise by between 25 percent and 30 percent by 2040, which would mean more CO2 in an economy dependent on coal and oil, exacerbating climate change.

The decarbonization of the planet, however, indicates a new world in 2050: one that is more available, more competitive and more sustainable, powered by renewable energy such as green hydrogen.

This technology is based on hydrogen generation through a chemical process known as electrolysis, a universal, light and highly reactive fuel. To separate the hydrogen from the oxygen in water, this process utilizes an electric current.

This can also generate energy without releasing carbon dioxide into the environment if this electricity is generated from renewable sources.

This method of obtaining green hydrogen, as the IEA points out, would save the 830 million tonnes of CO2 produced annually when fossil fuels are used to generate this gas. However, due to its high production cost, there are some concerns regarding the feasibility of green hydrogen; fair doubts that will vanish as the decarbonization of the planet progresses and, consequently, renewable energy generation becomes cheaper.

The most common chemical element in nature is hydrogen. The global demand for hydrogen for use as a fuel has tripled since 1975 and reached 70 million tonnes annually in 2018, as the IEA has noted. Moreover, it is a clean energy source which, unlike coal and oil, only emits water vapor and leaves no residue in the air.

Hydrogen has a long-standing business partnership. Since the beginning of the 19th century, this gas has been used to power vehicles, aircraft and space ships. Hydrogen will be granted more importance by the decarbonization of the global economy, a trend that can not be delayed. Furthermore, as estimated by the World Hydrogen Council, if its development costs dropped by 50 percent by 2030, we will definitely be looking at one of the potential fuels.

Iberdrola has opened what will be Europe’s first green hydrogen production plant for industrial use. The Puertollano plant in Ciudad Real will consist of a 100 MW photovoltaic solar plant, a 20 MWh lithium-ion battery system and one of the world’s largest production systems for electrolytic hydrogen (20 MW). Everything from renewable energy at 100 percent.

In nations like the United States, Russia, China, France and Germany, hydrogen as a fuel is a reality. Others are moving even further, like Japan, aiming to become a hydrogen economy.

Nedim Husomanovic

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