Green hydrogen is the final piece to solving the decarbonization puzzle


This article is sponsored by Plug Power.

Green hydrogen will be key to meeting the decarbonization goals of the Paris Agreement. Almost everyone wants to take better care of the Earth, but achieving a global warming limit of less than 2 degrees Celsius by 2050 without a wide range of carbon-free energy sources is a challenge.

Growth in renewable energy adoption, while rapid, has been hampered by intermittency – environmental, seasonal, and daily cycles that can limit their use or effectiveness. To complete the last mile of decarbonization, these renewable energy sources need a partner when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.

The top three sources of emissions contributing to global warming in the United States come from transportation, power generation, and industry. Emissions from some parts of the economy are difficult to eliminate. In Plug Power’s view, green hydrogen is the only zero-carbon option capable of decarbonizing industries such as aviation, shipping, long-haul trucking, and concrete and steel manufacturing.

Hydrogen is abundant and its supply is practically unlimited. Green hydrogen – created by splitting water through electrolysis and producing only hydrogen and oxygen – is an emission-free source that can be “always on” and turn the tide against resource scarcity. It can be used where it is produced or transported elsewhere, by pipeline, over the road in cryogenic liquid tank trucks or gas tube trailers. Unlike batteries used for electric vehicles and stationary energy which cannot store large amounts of electricity for long periods of time, hydrogen can be produced from excess renewable energy and stored in reservoirs in large quantities for a long time.

Pound for pound, hydrogen contains almost three times the energy of fossil fuels, so it takes less to complete a task. Likewise, an advantage of green hydrogen is that it can be produced anywhere there is water and electricity to generate more electricity or heat. By splitting the water molecule H2O through electrolysis, you have hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O) ready to be deployed.

Green hydrogen can be stored in existing gas pipelines to supply households. It can also be a renewable energy source when converted into a carrier such as ammonia, a carbon-free fuel for shipping, for example. It can also be used with fuel cells to power anything that uses electricity, such as electric vehicles and electronic devices. And unlike batteries, hydrogen fuel cells do not need to be recharged and do not discharge, as long as liquid hydrogen is available to refuel them.

Although some industry experts predict it will take 10 years before widespread adoption, green hydrogen is here and ready. For example, Walmart uses green hydrogen to power its forklifts in fulfillment and distribution centers, Edison Motors uses green hydrogen fuel cells for its transit bus fleets, and automakers, such as Toyota, have been realizing the benefits of hydrogen for years. . A recent study by McKinsey estimated that by 2030 the US hydrogen economy could generate $140 billion and support 700,000 jobs, while a report by the Hydrogen Council estimates that 18% of the global hydrogen market energy will consist of hydrogen by 2050.

Green hydrogen alone cannot solve global emissions problems, but we cannot completely decarbonize the economy without it. Plug Power believes that green hydrogen is only one piece of the puzzle and that we need to build an integrated renewable energy architecture, consisting of solar, wind, batteries and green hydrogen. This is the energy infrastructure of the future, and it cannot be achieved without green hydrogen.

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