JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Green hydrogen, once identified as a clean energy source needed to help the world achieve net zero emissions in the coming decades, was higher on the cost curve than fossil fuels.
Now, that has changed with this week’s Financial Times Hydrogen Summit highlighting that the competitive price position of green hydrogen, driven by rising fossil fuel prices, is likely to be entrenched.
Green hydrogen proponents point out that the system’s very low entry costs more than cancel out all of its inefficiencies.
It is expected that renewables will create competitive hydrogen derivatives that can be transported, stored and used very competitively.
The system envisioned is that whenever prices fall to multi-hour lows in low demand, excess electricity will be used to produce hydrogen and store it underground, and whenever prices rise in due to higher demand, this will justify the energy inefficiency of converting hydrogen back into energy. Trading in this band would solve the inefficiencies of electrolysers and fuel cells.
This scenario was convincingly illustrated by the CEO of TES Marco Alverawho is the former CEO of Snam, in conversation with the Financial Times natural resources editor Neil Hume during this week’s FT Hydrogen Summit, covered by Weekly mining.
Alverà expressed the view that the European Union’s ambitious goal of having 20 million tonnes per year of green hydrogen available by 2030 – ten on the internal market and ten imported – is achievable.
“The sun is there, the steel is available, the engineering talent is available. We just need to dot the i’s and compress these projects and put them into execution mode,” Alverà said, provided companies launch projects such as the one announced this week by bp.
bp will lead and operate one of the largest renewable energy and green hydrogen centers in the world, based in Western Australia.
“We need dozens of these big flagship projects,” Alverà stressed.
If such projects went ahead, then Europe’s goals would not only be achievable, but they would set the course for the rest of the world.
This would be so because the world would discover that green hydrogen could ease concerns about security of supply, high prices due to inflation as well as globally visible climate change.
“We can tackle all three together by doing some of these projects,” Alverà said.
“Produce electrons, use those electrons to produce hydrogen, fuse that hydrogen with CO2 to produce synthetic methane and then we have a fully renewable electron-based product. It’s cheaper, it’s cleaner, it’s safer. We can do it anywhere we have sun, so it’s a no-brainer. We just need to get out of the inertia of a status quo mode and get these projects started,” he added.
Later executive chairman of Fortescue Andrew Forest told the conference that he was particularly excited about wind power due to the fact that wind towers were designed with 80% less steel, less concrete and no moving parts in the generator. In addition, the solar panels have been redesigned.
“It’s a different world, it’s a wonderful world, it’s a world that has opened the door to a world without pollution, maybe not for us, but if we work hard, for our children, and that worth it,” Forrest said.