The opportunity to use hydrogen to help solve major energy problems has never been better. The recent triumphs of electric vehicles and renewable energy technologies have demonstrated the ability of policy and technology innovation to create a worldwide clean energy industry.
In this blog, we will explore what is green hydrogen and what’s its role in the roadmap to net zero.

With hydrogen-based fuels having the ability to transfer energy from renewable sources across vast distances, from locations with ample energy supplies to energy-starved areas thousands of kilometers distant, hydrogen is emerging as one of the top possibilities for storing energy from renewable sources.

At the UN Climate Conference, COP26, green hydrogen was mentioned as a way to decarbonize heavy industries, long-haul freight, shipping, and aviation. Governments and businesses across the globe have recognized hydrogen as a crucial component of the Net Zero Economy.

While burning hydrogen produces simply water, the process of producing it can be carbon-intensive. Hydrogen can be grey, blue, green, or occasionally even pink, yellow, or turquoise depending on the creation process. But since only green hydrogen can be produced in a way that is climate neutral, it is crucial to achieving net zero by 2050.

Green hydrogen: What is it? How does it vary from the common, emissions-heavy blue and “grey” hydrogen?

Green hydrogen is defined as hydrogen produced using renewable electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Compared to both grey and blue, this is a distinct route.

Grey hydrogen is often created by splitting methane (CH4) with steam to produce CO2 (the primary cause of climate change) and H2 (hydrogen).
Grey hydrogen is now more frequently referred to as brown or black hydrogen instead of grey because it is now produced from coal as well, which results in much higher CO2 emissions per unit of hydrogen produced. Today, it is generated on an industrial scale with emissions that are comparable to the sum of those from the UK and Indonesia. It is not useful for energy transitions at all.

Similar to grey hydrogen, blue hydrogen uses the additional technology required to capture and store the CO2 created during the separation of hydrogen from methane (or from coal). As not all of the CO2 produced can be caught and not all methods of storing it are equally successful over the long term, it is not one color but rather a very broad gradation. The primary idea is that by greatly reducing the climate impact of hydrogen production, a significant portion of the CO2 may be captured.

Hydrogen Fuel Color Coding

Importance of Green Hydrogen in the journey to Net Zero

A crucial component of the energy transition is green hydrogen. It is not the next step right away because we first need to speed up the deployment of renewable electricity to decarbonize current power systems, speed up the electrification of the energy sector to use affordable renewable electricity, and then use green hydrogen to decarbonize hard-to-electrify sectors like heavy industry, shipping, and aviation.

It is crucial to emphasize that we already create a sizable amount of grey hydrogen, which has large CO2 (and methane) emissions. It would be a priority to start decarbonizing the current hydrogen demand, for instance by substituting green ammonia for ammonia from natural gas.

Now, let’s have a look ho green hydrogen can assist in achieving the goal of net zero.

It can assist in decarbonizing several industries, such as long-distance transportation, chemicals, and iron and steel, where its challenging to cut emissions.

It can aid in enhancing energy security and enhancing urban air quality.

As one of the few methods for storing electricity over days, weeks, or months, it can enable the integration of fluctuating renewable energy sources in the electrical grid.

A key component of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 is hydrogen. Between 2021 and 2050, it can cut CO2 emissions by up to 60 GB, or 6% of all emissions combined.

Global Hydrogen demand growth by 2050

Hydrogen Demand Graph

Through various specialized uses in the industrial, transportation, energy, and building sectors, hydrogen demand will increase at a moderate, constant rate through the year 2030.

New coalitions to develop hydrogen projects will evolve through cross-sector cooperation.

Costs associated with producing hydrogen will drop by about 50% until 2030, after which they will continue to decline continuously through 2050, albeit at a slightly slower rate.

In various regions of the Middle East, Africa, Russia, China, the US, and Australia, the cost of producing green hydrogen will be between €1 and €1.5/kg by 2050.

Production costs will be around €2/kg during the same period in areas with few renewable resources, such as much of Europe, Japan, or Korea, making these markets potential importers of green hydrogen from elsewhere.

Since geographical limits restrict the production of green electricity for direct use and conversion to hydrogen, even locations with good renewable resources but heavily inhabited areas would import hydrogen.

There are zones of both competitive and non-competitive hydrogen production in several large nations, including the US, Canada, Russia, China, India, and Australia, which may encourage them to promote intranational trade.

Global centers for export and import will emerge, resembling the oil and gas hubs of today, but with new participants in the renewable energy-rich countries.

Content Credit: world economic forum

At Net Zero Wired, we are trying to educate anyone and everyone about Net Zero, we are exploring every possible path that various governments and the corporate world are taking and will be taking to achieve the target of net zero.