Hydrogen-carbon low-for the future?


 
 
 
 
Hydrogen is the new kid on the block of low-carbon alternatives, with applications in mobility, industrial processing and heavy transport. It also can be used to provide electricity and heat, and can be blended with natural gas to help decarbonize existing natural gas grids. But even with these opportunities, across the globe — from corporate offices to industry roadshows — one hears a frequent refrain: it is too expensive and it won’t scale. (Interestingly enough, this is the same reputation solar PV had a decade ago.)

As misconceptions about hydrogen abound, there is an opportunity to dispel some common myths about this emerging technology.

This is not winner-take-all.
The energy transition will be a blend of alternative fuels and electrification.

When it comes to technology change, most people think of it as a roulette game where the winner takes all. The debate around green options for low-carbon mobility, as well as freight, heavy industry and materials movement, is no different. The general thinking is that the payoff will come from either electrification or innovative fuels, but not both. 
This is not an either-or situation. Instead, it’s like being stranded on a desert island and choosing between water or food when the only survivable option is to find both. The ultimate solution for low-carbon transport most likely will be a blend of electricity-based and fuel-based options.

Among the fuel-based options, hydrogen dominates the conversation. As generally happens when you’re popular, the haters are expressing doubt over the development of hydrogen resources, fearing that it competes with electrification and battery technology, but this concern doesn’t reflect reality. While electrification and fuels such as hydrogen both come with their own set of challenges, they both have important roles to play. 

When electricity from low-carbon generation is substituted for fossil fuels, we can achieve significant reductions in CO2 emissions. With its zero-carbon potential and the role it can play in increasing demand for renewable energy, hydrogen has an important role in our energy transition and is a key complement to electrification.

Hydrogen is already in high demand and the industry will only continue to grow.

New interest in hydrogen has come from the mobility, freight, shipping, power and industrial processing sectors as they strive to move toward a decarbonized future. There is, however, a large preexisting demand linked to refining and ammonia production and as a feedstock for industrial chemical processes. The development of the hydrogen market reflects the potential for distributed production and the need for flexibility in our transport mix. For example, hydrogen fuel cell buses typically have a range of about 310 miles versus 124 miles for electric buses. With this range, hydrogen has both the potential to decarbonize rural transport and to offer a solution for uninterrupted services.



Source: Greenbiz, 31 Aug -19

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