Hydrogen is undoubtedly becoming the big agenda ticket within any Energy Transition. It is the promise of being a central pillar for many parts of the world to achieve their decarbonization targets to get as close as they can to zero carbon by mid-century.
Hydrogen seems to hold, it seems, such a promise, but it is nearly all to do. There is so much to validate, prove, and certainly scale. We have some exciting pilots, even some emerging commercial-scale projects.
Still, these pilots or pockets of limited commercialization are not connected up or integrated into a Hydrogen Economy. So far we are not able to scale sufficiently to generate that same unstoppable momentum that Wind and Solar as sustainable renewables are achieving, in dislodging fossil fuels.
Today we do not yet have a Hydrogen infrastructure, market and price competitiveness, or overarching policies to build into a movement that shifts the energy needle.
The Hydrogen transition story is still in its early days of becoming a sustainable part of the solutions we need to decarbonize the planet.
Although the use of Hydrogen has been around for years, it is the potential to replace other energy sources at an industrial scale that is exciting. The execution of Hydrogen solutions is a real imperative for this decade to validate and demonstrate.
We need Hydrogen solutions across so many industrial applications as well as a significant contributor to reducing heat in buildings or powering up our vehicles.
What I can see in the Hydrogen story is all technically feasible, but I am having several concerns on the pathway to delivery.
I get conflicting messages and feel some underlying tensions are occurring between those fighting to keep grey or brown Hydrogen, blue Hydrogen, and debating when they can go to green Hydrogen. It needs resolving and arguably phasing correctly. This is a “brewing battle” that will not be resolved in the confines of the Hydrogen Council, or, will it as they position themselves as the Hydrogen Ecosystem orchestrator?
Here in this post, I want to ‘walk’ through the shades of Hydrogen and their differences, moving to the solutions being offered to expand our use of hydrogen.
Then I want to offer a second post following, on discussions around Electrolysers and Carbon Capture, and the need to utilize or store as “hot” issues to be resolved. The present decade has been termed “the Hydrogen Decade,” but the road to travel is both bumpy, uncomfortable, and demanding to navigate.
I continue my Hydrogen journey. Recently I have leaned heavily on six great sources of Hydrogen knowledge to relate to the complexities with the Hydrogen story, as part of the Energy Transition we are all undertaking.
Absorbing reports from the IEA, IRENA, Bloomberg NEF, the Hydrogen Council DNV GL, and finally, Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy has helped me understand and relate to all the complexities within what Hydrogen offers in solutions. There have been countless others contributing their reports, views, or articles that I have read, tried to absorb, and relate too.
I set out to get a better picture of Hydrogens’ potential through some thoughts I offered in a recent post of applying a three-horizon lens to the understanding of any energy transition, and the one for Hydrogen has still to be finalized. Here in this post, I continue to frame the complexities within the challenges.
Something that will take thirty to forty years to turn from being ambitious and full of intent into realization is hard to relate too. Hydrogen is one of those promised solutions that can potentially allow us to achieve our “net-zero” carbon ambitions that have been “set in stone” (The Paris Agreement) dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, signed in 2016 that we need to achieve by 2050.
Hydrogen is becoming a central pillar for many countries across the world to help achieve their targets to this net-zero by mid-century. Hydrogen holds, it seems, such a promise, but it is nearly all to do. There is so much to validate, prove, and certainly scale to make a real impact on changing the sources of our energy.
The more you investigate Hydrogen, the more you realize the complexity of making it a viable energy source of sufficient scale. One that will really deliver the suggested results that Hydrogen could meet 24% of the worlds final energy demands by 2050. Today it provides around 1%. To change our energy systems reliant on Oil, Gas, Coal, and make these renewables based on Solar, Wind, and Water separation is at a level of magnitude is hard to imagine.
I strongly relate to Smart Cities or Smart Infrastructure as the grouping area dealing with the business dealing with the Edge for final energy transmission or the final beneficiary, the Consumer but I do relate to Urban Development as a “greater” catch-all for thinking a little wider on the potential to engage far more.
There is so much potential in technology currently being invested in our cities and their infrastructures. There are many estimates of this investment, according to the McKinsey Global Institute, they estimated that cities around the world would need to double current infrastructure investments from $10 to $20 trillion annually, to build the necessary physical infrastructure to support growing populations and needs.
The Smart Grid is evolving and will be essential in the next decade to bring the kind of transformation our existing energy grids require. Infrastructures to be fit for purpose must be fully integrated and smart to manage the increasing complexity and needs of electricity in the 21st century.
Smart Grids are part of the Smart Infrastructure approach in our need for complete Urban Transitions currently being undertaken. Let me try to step back here and give some broader understanding of “smart grids”
Energy is essential to the modern economy. It provides the vital power source of electricity for industry, for public services and powering infrastructure, as well as resolving domestic activities where heating, lighting, cooking can take place in different ways from traditional wood fires. Our growing reliance on communications, technology, and mobility all are reliant on having this constant source of energy.
As we grapple with the impact and effects of the CORVIt- 19 virus, we are rightly ‘transfixed’ on saving lives, keeping people healthy, but underpinning this is maintaining essential services. A reliable, constant power source is critical for hospitals, for our homes and work environments to support and sustain us.
Energy networks are finally moving from century-old models were the power was flowing from centralized sources, based on the conventional generation of coal, oil and gas to the load centres and grids, based more on renewables.
Today and in the future, a new generation is spreading out across the energy networks, based on renewable sources of wind and solar and through innovative technology, into a more decentralized, distributed generation that the end-user can influence and control.
New solutions of Microgrids, energy storage solutions, and even the ability to localize renewable power is changing the energy supply business. In many ways, the end-user or final consumer is establishing control over their energy needs; they need to take out the volatility in energy supplies and build resilience into their system. They are looking for solutions that optimize their power demand, consumption, pricing, and overall management of their energy resources. Continue reading “Storage unlocks the flexibility within our future energy needs”
Is this the perfect storm we are facing today, or does that one still lie ahead?
We are all presently caught up in a global crisis triggered by the Corona Virus (COVID-19), and the uncertainties of this and all the imposed restrictions have spread fear and levels of panic that the stock markets went into a “meltdown” mode.
Then we had the breaking up of the OPEC+ agreement of the amount of oil to be pumped with Saudi Arabia opening-up its supply to cause an oil price crash.
What will further happen in the next few days and weeks is anyone’s guess as more countries go into ‘lockdown’ to stop the spread of the virus. The response to this is governed by the protection of life and the health care systems, systems that are rapidly becoming overwhelmed.
The actions we all take to protect ourselves; and those around us will occupy much of our time in self-imposed ‘quarantine’ or company-imposed remote work. We will attempt to function as normal but let’s be honest these are not regular times, nor is the future going to go back to these. We are in new territory for where the world is going
“We are even not at the end of the beginning, certainly nowhere near the beginning of the end.”