Hydrogen and its potential impact on the future energy mix

Hydrogen and its potential impact on the future energy mix

Sarah Howell, Vice President, Gastech


As the energy industry becomes increasingly focused on working towards a just transition, greater attention has been paid to the fuels and technologies that can help drive this forward. One of the paths that has gained significant attention has been the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier.

Hydrogen has a long history in the energy industry. For many decades its advocates have touted it as the future of energy, in part because it has the potential to be a near zero emission energy source. The uses of hydrogen are potentially far-reaching. When placed within a fuel cell hydrogen can be transformed into electricity and methane to power homes, cars, and ships. It is also capable of storing renewable energy, and has a much higher storage capacity than batteries or large scale storage options. Finally, it can be used, and in fact is widely used, within industry in a range of processes, including steel production, methanol, and oil refining.

The challenge for hydrogen is in how it is made. While it is capable of being fully renewable, the process for producing hydrogen requires expending energy on separating it from another molecule. Critics argue this process is expensive, energy inefficient, and that its usual reliance on fossil fuels to power this process undermines its reputation as a provider of clean energy.

However, as governments and the wider industry increases their investment in renewable sources, which can be used to produce hydrogen as well as wider renewable infrastructure, advocates for hydrogen argue that it is becoming more viable.

This month alone, the Chinese government announced it had plans to produce up to 200,000 tonnes of renewable produced, or ‘green’, hydrogen a year, and place 50,000 hydrogen-fuelled vehicles on the road by 2025. Meanwhile the German government has pledged to use 3mn tonnes of clean hydrogen by 2030, and this month secured several agreements with the UAE to import ‘blue’ hydrogen, which is produced via natural gas that captures the excess carbon underground.

The question of whether hydrogen can become a major component of the global energy system remains an open one. But it’s undeniable that interest is growing.

Hydrogen will play a significant part at Gastech 2022, one of the largest gatherings of the energy industry worldwide. Featuring a dedicated Hydrogen strategic conference and Hydrogen Zone, Gastech will showcase the latest innovations in hydrogen technology and enable policymakers and business executives from across the hydrogen value chain to come together and discuss ways to develop a sustainable hydrogen ecosystem.

The global forum for the industry, don’t miss Gastech 2022, this September 5th-8th, at the Fiera Milano conference centre in Italy.