After years of being talked up as a potential game-changer, green hydrogen is at last receiving serious financial and labour force commitments from governments and big business.
In the Asia Pacific, Australia, with its vast areas where either sunshine or wind is in near-constant supply, is emerging as the region’s hub for green hydrogen production, which relies on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar to produce the fuel.
Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest is building a 2-gigawatt electrolyser and ammonia producing plant in the state of Queensland, with plans to use the project to kick-start green steelmaking.
There are four other green hydrogen projects in the works in Australia, including a plant in Western Australia covering an area half the size of Belgium that is expected to have a generating capacity of up to 26 gigawatts (GW) – enough to produce 90 terawatt-hours per year (TWh), or about one-third of Australia’s total electricity production in 2020.
Europe has even bigger plans. In Spain, the HyDeal Ambition project will come online in 2025, with an expected capacity of 67GW. Germany is pouring 9 billion euros ($9.4bn) into the space to help end its reliance on gas and coal, including a 100-megawatt electrolyser in Hamburg, a hydrogen research centre in Bavaria that has roped in Audi, BMW and Siemens, and a “hydrogen alliance” with Morocco.
In Texas, Green Hydrogen International has announced plans to build an electrolyser to produce clean rocket fuel for Elon Musk’s SpaceX. Hong Kong-based InterContinental Energy is seeking to build a 14GW electrolyser in Oman, while Kazakhstan has announced a 30GW plant.
China, the world’s largest producer and consumer of hydrogen, has set up 30 green hydrogen plants since 2019 and already dominates the market for hydrogen fuel cells. Last year, its production of hydrogen vehicles increased by nearly half to 1,777 units, according to the China Auto Association.
“What we have that we have never had before is a really strong global market pull for decarbonisation. People really want to see things change,” Daniel Roberts, leader of the Energy Technologies Research Program at Australia’s CSIRO science agency, told Al Jazeera.
“Every six months, Siemens and other companies are announcing an electrolyser that is cheaper and bigger. It is remarkable how quickly things are changing from no green hydrogen to massive investments.”
Hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe, was first harnessed as an energy source in 1804 when Swiss engineer François Isaac de Rivaz developed a hydrogen-powered combustion engine by extracting the element from…
Read More: Governments, firms make new bet on green hydrogen as climate fix | Environment