Hydrogen is essential for reaching net zero. According to the Hydrogen Council, “The world will need to make dramatic changes year after year and decrease energy-related CO2 emissions by 60% until 2050” – and hydrogen will play a critical role in cutting emissions from global energy systems.
Hydrogen provides a way to store renewable electricity indefinitely, and delivers zero-carbon power to hard-to-abate sectors such as industrial heat and long-distance transportation, powering the parts of the economy that cannot be electrified.
Happily, hydrogen’s importance is increasingly understood by policymakers, and worldwide, there are currently 200 hydrogen projects in the pipeline, with a projected global investment of over £215 billion.
Green hydrogen at COP26
Hydrogen is front and centre at COP26. On 2 November world leaders announced a dedicated Glasgow Breakthrough – launched by the Greenhouse Communications team on the ground at the conference – focused on reducing the cost of creating hydrogen. And today sees the Hydrogen Transition Summit feature 50 speakers from organisations including the Hydrogen Council, the Energy Transitions Commission, and BEIS. But what exactly is it?
Understanding the hydrogen rainbow: blue hydrogen vs green hydrogen
Hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe, does not give off emissions when burned – but that doesn’t mean it’s always a net zero fuel source – it depends on how it’s created. Blue hydrogen is derived from methane, using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to reduce the CO2 that is emitted as a by-product. Green hydrogen is made by electrolysing water, using electricity from renewables – a net zero process.
As green hydrogen does not rely on fossil fuels for its production, it can play a more meaningful role in the energy transition and the vital shift away from carbon. To ensure its success, we need to see the right level of policy support, as well as the trailblazing innovators who can deploy it at scale. Here, Greenhouse showcases the Game Changers who will lead the green hydrogen economy in 2022 and beyond.
1. ITM Power: trailblazing hydrogen electrolysers
The energy issue: hydrogen production still centres around the use of fossil fuels. In the UK alone, a continued reliance on production of blue hydrogen could create up to eight million tonnes of carbon emissions every year by 2050.
The solution: green hydrogen technology expert ITM Power provides the electrolyser technology needed to produce green hydrogen from renewable energy sources. Based in Sheffield, it is part of the critical ‘northern powerhouse’ accelerating the UK’s clean energy transition, and has recently opened its brand-new 1GW per annum manufacturing facility. Its products take excess energy from the power network and converts it into hydrogen, and can be scaled to 100MW+.
Partner projects include REFHYNE(to supply clean refinery hydrogen for Europe), HyDeploy(an energy trail project to establish the potential for blending up to 20% hydrogen into normal gas supply), and H2Mobility (one of the UK’s earliest hydrogen mobility projects). It also plans to install the UK’s largest electrolyser at ScottishPower’s Whitelee Wind Farm near Glasgow.
Green hydrogen innovation: “ITM’s technology has the advantage of being able to turn on and off rapidly — a big advantage for machines intended to be coupled with wind and solar farms, whose output fluctuates with the sun and breeze.”Stanley Reed and Jack Ewing, New York Times.
“Green hydrogen is the only net zero gas, which is key to powering the energy transition.”
Dr Graham Cooley
CEO, ITM Power on the Glasgow Breakthroughs
The energy issue: transportation produces a third of US CO₂ emissions – in 2016, it overshadowed coal-burning power generation emissions to become the country’s biggest polluting sector.
The solution: US- and UK-based hydrogen-electric aircraft developer ZeroAvia aims to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable aviation which is available at scale. The start-up was founded in 2017 by Valery Miftakhov, previously of Google, and founder of electric vehicle infrastructure company eMotorWerks.
Green hydrogen innovation: ZeroAvia’s novel zero-emission powertrain is powered by green hydrogen, meaning it has 75% lower fuel and maintenance cost, resulting in up to 50% total trip cost reduction. Its current powertrain delivers 300-500 NM range in a 10-20 seat fixed wing aircraft, but it plans to increase that capacity to 3000-5000 NM and 200+ seats by 2035-2040.
Read the Greenhouse guide to clean technology in the UK here.
3. Octopus Hydrogen: providing green hydrogen as a service
The energy issue: electrification and batteries are critical to the transition to net zero. But certain sectors such as road haulage, shipping and aviation are trickier to decarbonise. Plus, an increased reliance on electricity means that grids must be kept in balance to ensure that demand can be met.
The solution: Octopus Hydrogen is the new arm of British renewable energy group Octopus Energy. It supplies ‘green hydrogen as a service’, covering hydrogen production, storage, delivery, and dispensing for heavy goods transportation, energy storage, energy-intensive industrial applications and aviation sectors in the UK, Europe and Australia.
Green hydrogen innovation: by offering green hydrogen as an end-to-end service, Octopus Hydrogen is providing the type of joined-up ecosystem that will be essential for the uptake of green hydrogen at scale. The model is already being embraced, with customers including ZeroAvia, Clean Power Hydrogen, NanoSun, Luxfer Gas Cylinders and Green Hydrogen Systems.
Read more about Greenhouse’s work with clean tech innovators and green energy game changers here.
“We started Octopus Hydrogen to deliver 100% green hydrogen to those sectors that cannot be decarbonised through batteries alone. Aviation is a perfect use case for green hydrogen and we are delighted to be supporting ZeroAvia over the coming years with the supply of high pressure, pure and zero carbon hydrogen.”
Founder and CEO, Octopus Hydrogen
4. Nel Hydrogen: bringing green hydrogen to the mass market
The energy issue: many carbon-intensive sectors will rely on hydrogen to decarbonise, especially where electrification is not the most efficient option. This requires the right kind of infrastructure to deliver green hydrogen to end users in a quick and cost-effective way.
The solution: Norwegian company Nel Hydrogen offers technology solutions to produce, store, and distribute green hydrogen and make it accessible for all. It covers the entire supply chain, from production through to deployment, enabling some of the world’s most carbon-intensive industries to transition to green hydrogen. It also offers hydrogen refueling services for vehicles which can be scaled to handle the high demand of rush hour traffic.
Green hydrogen innovation: H2Station™ is the new generation fast 70MPa fueling of Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV). It is the world’s most compact hydrogen station, meaning that it can be installed at sites where space is at a premium.
Additional research by Verel Rodrigues.Explore the Greenhouse green energy and clean tech archives here, and get in touch if you’ve got a game-changing energy solution you want us to tell the world about: firstname.lastname@example.org