Green hydrogen could become a realible solution for facing the threat of climate change and reducing the carbon footprints of many industries. The latest estimates from the International Energy Agency (IEA), published at the end of 2019, foresee an increase in global energy demand of between 25 and 30% until 2040. This indicates the urgency of the use of clean and renewable energy sources. Green hydrogen is an alternative that many industrial sectors are considering as a great option for the future.
What is the Green Hydrogen?
It is the hydrogen obtained through the use of electric current to separate the hydrogen and oxygen molecules found in water. This process is known as electrolysis. What is striking about this is that, if electricity from renewable sources is used, it is possible to produce energy without emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Advantages and Uses of Green Hydrogen
According to the International Energy Agency, the sustainable production of green hydrogen could save 830 million tons of CO2 per year. The most striking aspect about the use of hydrogen as an energy source is that, unlike coal or oil, it does not leave residues in the air when burned. Water vapor is the the only residue left. Therefore it can be said that green hydrogen is a clean energy source. Another of its advantages is that it is very light; therefore it is capable of transporting green energy to remote places.
It is envisaged that green hydrogen could be used on a large scale in large industries as a raw material and on a massive scale in the mobility sector. This includes trains, buses, aviation and ships.
Green Hydrogen in the Shipping Industry
The maritime industry also faces the enormous challenge of reducing its annual CO2 emissions. In fact, in this industry, there is a commitment to reduce its emissions to 50% by 2050; taking 2008 emissions as references.
There are already some countries setting their sights on green hydrogen. Today, Europe is leading the use of green hydrogen within the shipping industry. We can observe the example of Norway, which this year -2021- will put into operation an electric ferry powered by hydrogen. This will mean an annual saving of 4,000 tons of CO2 emissions. In addition, Norway is currently building the largest hydrogen ship in the world. It will be used for offshore construction and repair, and will be 99 meters long.
In addition, France, Belgium and Spain are also building hydrogen ships, tugboats and stations in shipyards.
Production and Challenges
Although the future of green hydrogen is promising, there are a number of challenges for which solutions must be developed. Hydrogen is highly corrosive and flammable; therefore it is necessary to invest large sums of money for its storage and transport. Also, being an extremely light gas, it is very difficult to avoid leaks.
The entire cycle of hydrogen production and use needs to be economically and environmentally sustainable and feasible to be used on a large scale. Currently the countries that lead the production of green nitrogen are: Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, China, Saudi Arabia and Chile.