Last year, this column addressed hydrogen’s potential for playing a significant role in the global search for clean, secure energy sources. This year, the interest in hydrogen has ramped up with a striking number of plans for and developments in hydrogen production and use. While most of the world’s hydrogen is currently produced by steam methane reforming (termed “gray” hydrogen), aggressive carbon-reduction goals have turned attention to “green” hydrogen (produced by electrolysis powered by renewable energy sources) and to a lesser extent to “blue” hydrogen (produced from fossil fuels, with carbon capture).
Recent advances in electrolyzer technology have made green hydrogen production more attractive. For more on this, see our September Cover Story (Electrolyzer Technologies for Green Hydrogen, pp. 26–30).
The European Commission’s (EC; www.ec.europa.eu) European Green Deal set the ambitious objective for the E.U. to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Green hydrogen plays an important role in the E.U. vision, which includes a phased approach to deploying large-scale renewable hydrogen technologies. Targets include producing up to one million metric tons of renewable hydrogen from now through 2024, and up to ten times that amount from 2025 to 2030. To help put this strategy into action, the EC set up the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance, which includes industrial and governmental leaders, research organizations, the European Investment Bank and more. The long list of members includes familiar names like Air Liquide, BASF, Dow Europe, Shell and many more.
Green hydrogen projects are booming. Recently, Iberdrola (www.iberdrola.com) and Fertiberia (www.fertiberia.com) in Spain, agreed to invest €150 million to construct what is said to be the largest plant to produce green hydrogen for industrial use in Europe. The green hydrogen is slated to be used in an ammonia plant to manufacture green fertilizers.
And electrolyzer demand is up. Enapter (www.enapter.com) for example, has recently announced plans for a new production site in Germany to produce more than 100,000 anion-exchange membrane electrolyzer modules per year.
The surge in green hydrogen is by no means limited to Europe. A $5-billion green-hydrogen-based ammonia production facility, said to be the world’s largest green hydrogen project, is planned for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The joint-venture project involves Air Products (www.airproducts.com), ACWA Power (www.acwapower.com) and NEOM (www.neom.com).
In the U.S., Washington state’s Douglas County Public Utility District is having a 5-MW proton-exchange membrane electrolyzer installed to produce hydrogen from renewable energy. This will be the largest, and first-of-its-kind system to be used by a public utility in the U.S.
There are many more, significant hydrogen projects underway — you can find details on our website, in our e-newsletters and in the pages of this magazine. And advances in the technologies for hydrogen production and use are continuing to be developed. See, for example several related articles in the Chementator section of this issue (pp. 4–8). ■
Dorothy Lozowski, Editorial Director