To combat climate change and pollution the world is moving further away from fossil fuels towards various renewable energy sources. With governments pushing these alternatives and ongoing technological advancements, renewable energy is becoming cheaper, profitable, and more accessible to the public at large. One form of environmentally friendly and renewable-based energy is Green hydrogen. Green hydrogen is hydrogen that was made using only renewable energy and it seems highly likely that it could become a major form of clean energy in the near future. Moreover, given the infrastructure and industry that already exist in the state, Texas and more specifically the Gulf Coast are poised to be the center of Green hydrogen production.
What is Green Hydrogen?
While green hydrogen is still something of a nascent technology the process for its production is relatively straightforward. The first step in creating green hydrogen is to obtain electricity from wind and solar energy by installing them at a site that has access to water which can be easily split into oxygen and hydrogen using electrolysis. Electrolysis is the process whereby you run an electric current through water to split water molecules into their component elements one of which is hydrogen. Moreover, hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and when produced from renewable energy does not contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Given the nearly endless supply of water, this could give us a potentially unlimited supply of clean energy. Additionally, green hydrogen is highly versatile and can be used to generate electricity in power plants or as fuel for vehicles.
However, green hydrogen faces some limitations. For starters, it isn’t currently being produced at a level that would allow us to completely transition from fossil fuels over to renewable energy sources but this could change sometime soon. For example, California already requires that utilities mix green hydrogen in with the natural gas they burn to generate electricity. While currently, this is only a small fraction of overall energy production it could increase as the price of green hydrogen falls making it economically feasible for power companies. Moreover, if renewable sources continue to become cheaper and more effective at producing electricity than fossil fuels then the market will respond and switch to green hydrogen.
Other types of Hydrogen?
In addition to Green hydrogen that is created by renewable, there is also brown, grey, and blue hydrogen created using other methods. Brown hydrogen is the least environmentally friendly and is created by using coal where emissions are released straight into the air. Grey hydrogen is hydrogen created by using natural gas where emissions are likewise just released into the air. Blue hydrogen is created the same way grey hydrogen is except that the emissions are captured with carbon capture technology. Aside from green hydrogen, the next most clean form of hydrogen is blue as it also avoids environmental harm.
The benefits of Hydrogen
Hydrogen, when it comes from renewable-based energy sources is a clean and efficient form of energy. A single gallon of hydrogen can power the average fuel economy car for 2-3 weeks on one tank. More importantly than that green hydrogen creates no harmful emissions at all since there are not any fossil fuels in its production. The only byproduct of its production is water that forms when hydrogen and oxygen combine. Given its cheap cost and high efficiency, green hydrogen could help mitigate climate change by reducing carbon emissions from vehicles but will require widespread infrastructure investment to do so. Although renewable energy is relatively cheap to produce, the cost of hydrogen can be somewhat more expensive but this could change as advancements are made.
The main problem green hydrogen faces are that it costs about double the cost of the other types of hydrogen that generally cost closer to $2 per kilogram. Additionally, it may cost another $7 per kilogram to store the hydrogen in tanks however these costs are likely to fall with new technological innovation. The US Department of Energy projects that green hydrogen could be cost-competitive as early as 2025. Another problem is that it will be difficult to transport hydrogen using existing pipeline infrastructure due to the fact that hydrogen is small enough to slip through steel. Despite these problems the world recognizes hydrogen’s potential and is making substantial investments in the fuel source.
Green hydrogen around the world
Green hydrogen is making great strides around the globe despite the issues associated with it. In Australia, it’s supposed to be cost-competitive by 2030 with companies pouring billions of dollars investing in hydrogen production in New South Wales.
In Asia, China is said to be leading the current global hydrogen market as they currently produce a third of the world’s supply. Japan has its eyes set on the goal of turning its nation into a hydrogen-powered society and is investing heavily in hydrogen fuel stations.
The European Union announced a hydrogen-based climate strategy aimed at achieving a carbon-neutral Europe. European nations and private companies are already investing billions in building up infrastructure for hydrogen production.
Canada is currently investing in hydrogen energy and they will likely be among the first to commercialize green hydrogen production. Canada is already home to the world’s largest hydrogen fueling station in Vancouver which runs on renewable energy sources.
The US is also investing heavily into hydrogen energy with about $200 million being invested this year alone by private companies, researchers as well as government agencies.
Why the Texas Gulf is set to become the center of hydrogen production in the United States and the world?
As more countries and companies turn to hydrogen Texas is in a prime position to become a global hub for hydrogen manufacturing and export. According to the University of Texas, “Texas is the largest domestic producer of hydrogen, and already has a network of hydrogen pipelines in place. Plus, Texas’s sprawling network of natural gas pipelines can be used to transport hydrogen with minimal retrofitting. Well-established industrial practices exist for generation, storage and handling”. Additionally, the Department of Energy is making investments in Texas for a demonstration of the country’s first dedicated renewable hydrogen network. Most of the hydrogen production in Texas Is centered on the Gulf coast “The Texas Gulf Coast area anchors the world’s leading H2 system, producing approximately one-third of U.S. total H2 gas per year. The system encompasses an expansive network of 48 H2 production plants, more than 900 mi of H2 pipelines (more than half of the U.S. H2 pipelines and one-third of H2 pipelines globally), as well as geologically unique and at-scale salt cavern storage”. Texas and its Gulf Coast are set to be the center of hydrogen production for the 21st century.
Green hydrogen is a viable solution to help cut carbon emissions. Europe, Australia, and Asia are already investing billions in it. The US has been at the forefront of innovation for the past century and will most likely be the country that leads the world into responsible green energy production as well as the commercialization of Green hydrogen.
One thing is for certain, the future is here and the hydrogen industry will play a major role in it. Green hydrogen may just save our planet from climate change and usher in a new clean energy economy that powers the world into the 22nd century.
The future of Green hydrogen
As the world shifts to renewables and technological innovation makes green hydrogen more feasible you’ll likely see it used increasingly in place of fossil fuels. According to the Houston Chronicle “The global demand for hydrogen fuel is expected to grow rapidly over the next decade. Government climate targets, for example, call for the number of hydrogen-powered cars on the road worldwide to increase to 2.5 million by 2030 from about 11,000 in 2018”. Moreover, “Michael Graff, CEO of American Air Liquide Holdings, a producer of industrial gases, said his company predicts hydrogen could account for 20 percent of the world’s energy needs over the next 30 years”.
The question is not “if” but rather “when” hydrogen will become a major energy source for the world. Green hydrogen will be the foundation for sustainable green energy. Green hydrogen is already being used in place of fossil fuels and will replace a big portion of the world’s fuel for transportation.
In the future, green hydrogen will reap tremendous benefits, not just to our economy but also to our environment as well. The planet depends on it!
The future of hydrogen is a promising one. Ultimately, the world will be powered by clean energy and green hydrogen is likely to play a big part in accomplishing that. With its extensive infrastructure, prime location, and largescale renewable energy production Texas is primed to become a worldwide leading producer of Green hydrogen, ushering in a new era of sustainable green energy for the 21st century.