Investing in Hydrogen
Hydrogen plays a key role in energy transition and energy security. One important reason is that hydrogen emits no greenhouse gases when burned. The only waste product is water vapor, making it a cleaner energy source than fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil, and coal. Another important reason is that hydrogen has the highest energy content of any common fuel by weight (about three times more than gasoline).
The drawback to hydrogen as a fuel source is that it’s rarely found in an easily extractable form like natural gas. And although hydrogen can be produced from a variety of sources, most methods emit greenhouse gases. On top of that, it’s not yet made at the scale needed to be economically competitive with fossil fuels. However, that could change in the coming years.
The most promising solution is green hydrogen, which is produced by using renewable energy to power an electrolyzer that splits hydrogen from water molecules. Of course, this process results in no carbon emissions.
As for now, it costs about $1.50 per kilogram to produce hydrogen from natural gas and $5 per kilogram to produce clean hydrogen. The U.S. Department of Energy wants to get the cost of clean hydrogen down to $1.00 per kilogram over the next decade to make it a more competitive fuel source. The good news is that many companies are working hard to develop technologies to efficiently and safely produce, store, transport and use green hydrogen, and they’re making huge progress. The International Energy Agency predicts that costs for electrolyzers could drop by 70% by 2030, if manufacturing capacities scale successfully. Together with lower prices for renewable energy, green hydrogen prices could drop by 60-64% by 2025, and by up to 72% by 2030. As the price drops, hydrogen production is rising, making it increasingly viable as an alternative fuel. The IEA estimates that global production of low-emission hydrogen from electrolysis could reach 240 GW by 203011. With today’s fossil energy prices, renewable hydrogen could already compete with hydrogen from fossil fuels in many regions.
Below are some examples of the achievements.
The Sinopec Ordos project in Inner Mongolia will produce around 30,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year. The electrolyser will be powered by 450 MW of wind power and 270 MW of solar. The plant also has the capacity for 288,000 cubic metres of hydrogen storage。 Hydrogen produced at the Ordos project will partially displace black hydrogen currently used in a nearby chemical factory.
Universal Hydrogen has been developing flight-ready fuel cells and has begun test flights, hoping that hydrogen will do for aviation what batteries can’t. It completed taxi testing in 2023 February. The plane, took to the skies for a fifteen minute flight. It reached an altitude of 3,500 feet above sea level. The fuel cell provided up to 800 kW of electricity during the flight, with water vapor the only output to the atmosphere. Approximately 16 kg of fuel was used in the test.
阿尔斯通在柏林举行的2016年创新交通大会上首次展示了Coradia iLint——由氢燃料电池驱动的客运列车。2018年，Coradia iLint在德国投入商业运营。该列车由氢燃料电池提供动力，零排放，噪音低，废气只有蒸汽和冷凝水。
It was at InnoTrans 2016 in Berlin that Alstom presented the Coradia iLint™ for the first time. And just two years later, at 2018, the iLint™ entered into commercial service in Germany. The Coradia iLint™ is the world’s first passenger train powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, which produces electrical power for traction. This zero-emission train emits low levels of noise, with exhaust being only steam and condensed water.
The world's first hydrogen-energy urban train with independent intellectual property rights jointly developed by CRRC Changchun Railway Co and Chengdu Rail Transit officially rolled off the assembly line in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, on 2022 December 28. The train adopted the key core technology of the Fuxing bullet train, with a maximum speed of 160 kilometers per hour. It has a built-in "hydrogen power" system, which provides a strong and durable power source that can achieve a long battery life of 600 kilometers
Hydrogen is used in many industrial processes, such as refining petroleum, treating metals, producing fertilizer, and processing foods. Hydrogen fuel cells are used to power the electrical systems on spacecraft, and also used to motorize vehicles (cars, trains, buses, maritime vessels, and trucks). Large fuel cells can supply electricity to electric power grids, supply backup or emergency power in buildings, and supply electricity in places that are not connected to electric power grids. Hydrogen might also replace natural gas in the pipeline system with some modifications. It could then be used in power plants to generate electricity and as a fuel source for our homes.
The potential of hydrogen is limitless. Hydrogen will, in fact, be a sustainable, clean power source for many generations to come. We're in the early phase now, but we're seeing a very rapid scale-up. The Hydrogen Insights Report from the Hydrogen Council recently profiled 228 global projects with a value of $345 billion USD. Goldman Sachs Research estimates as much as 137 GW will be installed by the end of 2030, about 1.7 times more than last year’s estimate of 80 GW. And analysts at both Bank of America and Morgan Stanley forecast that green hydrogen could be worth over $11 trillion by 2050. This could be a good timing to invest in hydrogen.