Sam Reynolds, an energy finance analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, suggests that green hydrogen has a “long road ahead before it becomes a viable, affordable energy source.”
The cost of producing green hydrogen is a significant barrier, with a price tag of up to $8 per kilogram, roughly six times the cost of liquefied natural gas in Asia. To make green hydrogen more accessible, there’s a need to reduce production costs significantly.
Jephraim C. Manansala, the chief data scientist for the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, acknowledges the allure of hydrogen, whether it’s sourced indigenously or produced from renewable energy. Hydrogen is seen as an opportunity to enhance energy security and contribute to the energy transition.
The Philippine Perspective: A Key Role for Hydrogen
The Philippine Energy Plan 2020-2040 has identified hydrogen as a key alternative fuel. The use of hydrogen in power generation aligns with national objectives to diversify fuel sources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and increase the share of renewable energy in the energy mix.
Discussions are ongoing about whether to consider hydrogen produced from renewable sources as a subset of renewable energy or alternative fuels. This decision will influence the path the Philippines takes in integrating hydrogen into its energy strategy.
Hydrogen in Power Generation: A Game Changer?
Hydrogen’s application in power generation is a hot topic of debate. It’s considered a potential backup power source that can complement intermittent energy sources like solar and wind. Additionally, hydrogen could address the energy needs of off-grid and remote areas, which currently rely on diesel as their primary fuel source.
However, analysts are cautious about using hydrogen in co-firing applications, particularly in coal power plants. Efficiency, sustainability, and cost concerns have cast doubts on the feasibility of such applications. Co-firing with fossil-based ammonia can even result in higher emissions compared to natural gas power plants. The production of ammonia, a critical component in this context, generates significant emissions.
Infrastructure and Environmental Considerations
The transport and storage of hydrogen present their own set of challenges. The Philippines currently has limited hydrogen infrastructure, making the transportation of hydrogen a complicated endeavor. Due to its low energy density, hydrogen can cause pipeline embrittlement and safety issues. The conversion of hydrogen to ammonia may facilitate transportation but comes at the cost of energy efficiency and increased expenses.
Patrick T. Aquino, director of the DoE Energy Utilization Management Bureau, emphasizes that the regulations governing hydrogen’s use will consider environmental aspects. The government is committed to mitigating climate change and reducing emissions.
Balancing Hydrogen’s Potential and Practicality
The Philippines has ambitious plans to increase the share of renewable energy in its power mix, aiming for 35% by 2030 and 50% by 2040. While hydrogen is seen as a promising addition to the energy landscape, experts argue that renewable energy sources and battery storage facilities may prove to be more cost-effective for the country’s energy transition.
As the government positions hydrogen as a key player in its future energy strategy, it’s essential to address the practical challenges of production, cost, transportation, and infrastructure. Green hydrogen may be the energy source of tomorrow, but today, it’s a complex puzzle that requires careful consideration and strategic planning.
In conclusion, while green hydrogen holds enormous promise for the Philippines and the global energy landscape, there’s a significant journey ahead. Balancing its potential benefits with practicality will be the key to ensuring that hydrogen plays a pivotal role in the country’s energy transition.