Solving the issue of variability

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Alexandru Floristean, Legal & Project Manager at Hydrogen Europe’s gave a presentation at this year’s Terminal of Tomorrow online conference explaining why hydrogen is such a hot topic.

‘Achieving carbon neutrality in an efficient way will require energy storage,’ he began. Floristean explained that renewable energy production and consumption is not stable – it fluctuates daily and also depending on the season. Hydrogen solves this issue of variability. It is ideally suited for long term storage due to its long charge duration and high discharge power.

‘Without hydrogen carbon neutrality is not possible,’ he added. The use of hydrogen enables for the first time the realistic introduction of large scale renewable energy. Hydrogen finally gives renewable energy producers the options of selling it immediately for electricity or transforming it into hydrogen for storage.

By turning renewable energy into hydrogen, a renewable energy producer is able to access new markets which were previously inaccessible such as transportation, heating or heavy industry.

Plus, in the form of hydrogen renewable energy becomes easily transportable. It is approximately 10 – 20x cheaper to transport renewable energy as hydrogen than to transport it as electricity. This helps to offset the conversion losses that are incurred in the production of hydrogen.

Progress so far

Floristean explained that hydrogen has very strong political support at the highest level.

The European commission has estimated that the share of hydrogen in Europe’s energy mix will be approximately 14-15% by 2050 with some estimates putting it even higher.

Most of the world has either adopted or is working on a national hydrogen strategy. These are all different depending on the countries’ unique advantages and needs. For example, Canada is investing in low carbon hydrogen based on natural gas and carbon capture and the EU is focusing on leveraging their strong renewable energy generation capacity. Japan is looking to import hydrogen to fuel its large transport sector.

In the EU six countries have published a national hydrogen strategy – Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal and Norway and together they’ve earmarked more than €40 billion for hydrogen development. 13 further countries are working on their national hydrogen strategies.

‘If we sum up the targets of production for just those 6 countries that have published strategies so far, there are 21.3GW of electrolyser capacity,’ Floristean explained. This is more than half of the target prosed by the EU hydrogen capacity.

These plans are supported by the industry. Hydrogen Europe keeps a database of hydrogen development projects across Europe. ‘Based on what we know so far there are more than 150 projects, amounting to more than 25GW capacity which will be built before 2030.’

What role will terminals play?

Hydrogen Europe has done a thorough analysis of the cost competitiveness of all types of decarbonised fuel in the maritime sector. They found that the only fuels that made sense were hydrogen-based. Compressed hydrogen made sense for small ships with small ranges, liquid hydrogen for medium ships and ammonia for larger vessels. These fuels will require tanks and a logistics chain spanning the entire globe.

Port terminals have already been identified by the IEA as central elements in the future energy system because of their unique role to act as central hubs for the hydrogen economy.

Looking ahead, hydrogen will be a globally traded energy commodity, Floristean concluded. ‘The storage terminal should be begin preparing and planning for this future.’

Hydrogen Europe

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