Green Hydrogen is the future...

Green Hydrogen, Chile
Image: InvestChile

Green hydrogen will help to reduce emissions in existing industrial processes and also provide clean fuel for buses, trucks or ships, creating a new industrial activity and boosting growth and employment.

February, 2022.-

What is Green Hydrogen? 

  Hydrogen has been available as a non-polluting alternative for many years. It is a light chemical element abundant on our planet and is capable of releasing more energy than any other. Its demand has tripled since 1975 and it was used as a propellant and energy generator during Apollo XI's first trip to the moon and is an essential element in the aerospace race.

Gray hydrogen is produced from hydrocarbons such as natural gas, methane and other polluting gases, so its use as a sustainable alternative has been discarded. However, Green or Renewable Hydrogen is obtained by splitting water into its components, hydrogen and oxygen, through a process called electrolysis. This process requires the use of electricity, which is obtained from renewable sources, thus closing the cycle that allows the production of energy without carbon dioxide emissions.

What is this green hydrogen revolution about? 
  
We are living at a point of no return in terms of climate change. Now more than ever, society is moving towards the decarbonization of the planet, with the focus set on 2050. Sustainability is therefore no longer an option but a must. According to several studies, hydrogen can become a key element to accelerate the energy transition and generate significant socioeconomic and environmental benefits.

As efficiency and environmental awareness goals materialize, humanity does not stop and energy demand continues to rise. According to the latest estimates from the International Energy Agency (IEA), global energy demand is expected to increase between 25% and 30% by 2040.

On the other hand, electric alternatives are not still viable in large transport vehicles such as trucks, airplanes and ships due to the large volume and weight of the batteries required. Green hydrogen can be used as a liquid synthetic fuel or as a gas. This would allow it to be used in a wide range of existing technologies, transport and infrastructure.

According to IEA estimates, hydrogen obtained in this way would avoid the 830 million tons of CO2 per year generated when the gas is produced from fossil fuels. If all the world's gray hydrogen were replaced, this would mean an additional 3,000 renewable terawatt-hours per year, an amount similar to the current electricity demand in Europe.

Advantages and disadvantages

In addition to the advantages mentioned above, hydrogen is highly versatile, so there are different alternatives for its use. For example, it can be combined with carbon dioxide produced in a renewable way to make a raw material for the production of more eco-friendly plastics.

Depending on weather conditions, the production of other renewable energies may vary. Using the excess of these energies in the production of green hydrogen can help avoid dependence on weather and time of year. In addition, the production and use of green hydrogen is a constantly evolving technology. It may have more than one surprise in store, as much of science and industry is focused on this revolution.

Spain is also investing in this type of fuel generation. An example of this is Iberdrola, which is leading the development of green hydrogen with more than 60 projects to meet the electrification and decarbonization needs of sectors such as industry and heavy transport. It is thus at the forefront of the new technological challenge of producing and supplying hydrogen from 100% renewable energy sources in the electrolysis process.

In Spain, the company is developing the largest green hydrogen plant for industrial use in Europe. It will use 100% renewable electricity in the electrolysis process for the production of ammonia for fertilizers. The green hydrogen produced will be used in Fertiberia's ammonia factory in Puertollano (Ciudad Real). It will be completed in later stages in Palos de la Frontera (Huelva) and in Puertollano itself. And it considers the development of 800 MW of green hydrogen, with a total investment of 1,800 million Euros over the next six years.

Another recently signed agreement is that of Iberdrola and H2 Green Steel. It is an alliance to build a green hydrogen plant with an installed capacity of 1,000 MW and an investment of about 2.3 billion. The new plant will feed a steel direct reduction furnace with clean fuel, with a capacity to produce some 2 million tons per year of pure green steel. In addition, 95% of CO2 emissions will be reduced.


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