How industrial collaboration can revive green hydrogen – EURACTIV.com
Europe has long been a leader in sustainable energy sources like wind and solar, and the rise of clean hydrogen is no exception.
Professor Emmanouil Kakaras is Executive Vice President NEXT Energy Business at Mitsubishi Heavy Industries EMEA.
Several green hydrogen poles – generated from renewable energies – have sprung up across Europe, forming the green shoots of a hydrogen future for the region and beyond. But, while these pioneering projects could revive the adoption of clean hydrogen on a large scale, collaboration between industry, policy makers, utilities, engineers and many other partners is key to their success.
Since green hydrogen is emission-free when produced and emits only water when burned, it is seen as a critical part of efforts to decarbonize areas of the economy that do not. cannot simply be electrified. And although the idea of â€‹â€‹a hydrogen economy is nothing new, with declining production costs, a favorable European policy framework and a growing imperative to switch to sustainable energy, the race for Scaling up of collaborative green hydrogen infrastructure projects is underway.
Like the spirits
One such collaboration opportunity is the Green Hydrogen Hub in Hamburg, which the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) group seeks to develop in partnership with Shell, the large wind company Vattenfall and the local municipal company WÃ¤rme Hamburg.
The four partners have signed a letter of intent to explore the feasibility of converting the site of a former coal-fired power plant into a 100 MW hydrogen project that could start producing clean hydrogen by 2025. .
At the heart of the Moorburg district site in Hamburg, an electrolyser would produce green hydrogen with an initial power of 100 MW supplied by renewable energies from solar photovoltaic (PV) installations and wind farms in the North Sea. When completed, the electrolyser would be one of the largest plants in Europe and a medium to long term increase in capacity to 500 MW and beyond is already under consideration.
A feasibility study will examine the intelligent integration of a hydrogen production facility with the site’s former coal-fired power plant; it will also examine storage possibilities and connections with future transport infrastructure being developed by the local gas network operator Gasnetz Hamburg. A future green hydrogen hub on the site could eventually supply hydrogen and heat to the city of Hamburg and help decarbonize industry and transport systems in the region. The study will explore ways to use all forms of waste heat from the electrolyser project – such as using excess thermal energy for the city’s heat supply – to maximize energy efficiency.
â€œThe establishment of a green hydrogen hub fully integrated into Hamburg’s industrial infrastructure would show Europe and the world that the hydrogen economy is real and that it can make a significant contribution to decarbonization of the energy system and heavy industry â€. said Kentaro Hosomi, executive vice president, regional director, Europe, Middle East and Africa at MHI.
Collaboration at work
While there is still work to be done before green hydrogen can compete with the price of other fuels, things are changing quickly. Production costs have fallen 40% since 2015, according to an IHS Markit report, and carbon-free hydrogen could be competitive by 2030.
But it is the potential to decarbonise an entire industrial cluster on a single site that drives the agenda of projects like Hamburg, bringing together partners from different sectors working towards a common goal.
The Hamburg Hydrogen Network (Wasserstoff-Verbund Hamburg) brings together twelve partners, including those involved in the Hamburg Green Hydrogen Hub, with the sole aim of mapping the entire hydrogen value chain, the renewable energy that will power the process of electrolysis to the consumption of hydrogen by consumers.
This would enable onshore and offshore wind farms in the north of the city to ensure a secure supply of clean energy to generate hydrogen, which can be transported using some existing infrastructure to connect the high density of large buyers to the region. Global steelmaker ArcelorMittal aims to develop the world’s first production of hydrogen-based steel on an industrial scale in Hamburg, for example.
The potential of hydrogen to help decarbonize hard-to-electrify sectors means that heavy industry, aviation and the port cluster appear poised to play a leading role in the hub’s development.
Clusters located near multiple potential hydrogen customers can achieve economies of scale and lower hydrogen production costs, according to McKinsey’s Hydrogen Insights report. By collaborating on the Hamburg project, the companies involved can also share the risk and facilitate the attraction of investments along the hydrogen value chain.
By working together on this value chain – from first production to end use – the companies involved in the Hamburg hub hope to answer several key questions: How much of the existing infrastructure at the Moorburg site can be used to produce energy from renewable energies? Are the necessary logistics chains and storage options for hydrogen feasible? What policy decisions will provide an appropriate environment for developing Hamburg’s green hydrogen hub?
Actions speak louder
It is no coincidence that the project is located in an endless industrial heart of energy-hungry consumers, and there are plans to expand the hydrogen infrastructure to the nearby port within 10 years, by linking to international maritime transport markets and potentially connecting to air transport. routes. The sea link could allow both the Moorburg site and the wider port area to receive hydrogen imports by sea in the future.
The Hamburg hub could become a gateway to expand the supply network to other parts of Germany and beyond, helping to lay the groundwork for the country’s hydrogen future. And other similar clusters are scattered across Europe.
The hubs from Hamburg to the Humber region in the UK are best positioned to overcome the challenges associated with launching a green hydrogen economy, such as current high costs, low density and the propensity to leak when of transport, demonstrating the potential of hydrogen as well as its business case.
The European Commission plans to halve the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, leaving a hydrogen-shaped hole for more sustainable fuels. Hydrogen could represent more than 13% of the European energy mix by the middle of the century, according to the strategy of the European Commission, against around 2% today.
With hydrogen at the top of the energy sector’s agenda, the International Energy Agency will release the Global Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050 report this month, a call to action guiding governments, businesses, investors and citizens on the urgent measures needed to decarbonize the sector-century.
With the collaboration of policymakers, energy companies and many other stakeholders, the journey towards a clean energy future has already begun, turning discussions about a hydrogen economy into reality.