Joining Rob Cockerill, Global Managing Editor of gasworld, for the Hydrogen: An Electrolyser Special was: Kasper Tipsmark, Chief Technology Officer of Green Hydrogen Systems; Jørg Aarnes, Global Lead of Hydrogen and CCS at DNV; and François Paquet, Impact Director at the Renewable Hydrogen Coalition.
Kicking off the discussion around electrolysis and its coupling with renewable energy sources was Jørg Aarnes who stated that hydrogen has significant role in the growing renewable energy world and will be crucial for large-scale energy storage.
“The first thing I’d like to say is that electricity and hydrogen largely serves complementary roles and in terms of the scaling of renewable electricity, it is important,” he said.
“Renewable energy will primarily serve to decarbonise applications and sectors that could easily be electrified whereas hydrogen will have an important role in areas that are not easily electrified.
“That includes heavy duty transport, shipping, aviation and, for instance, heating in buildings and countries that are dominantly heated by natural gas.”
When asked what the three main barriers that need to be addressed to scale hydrogen technologies, Aarnes suggested that the greatest challenge was creating sufficient demand fast enough to scale production.
Aarnes told viewers, “I believe that the greatest challenge is actually scaling the demand fast enough. We are today witnessing a huge wave of projects looking to develop large scale green and blue hydrogen production.
“But I believe that demand will scale slower than production. That means that if you’re producing green hydrogen, then it needs either need to curtail production or you need to find another uptake of that by, for instance, feeding hydrogen into the natural gas system.
“But that type of uptake will typically have a lower value since hydrogen will generally not be separated out from the natural gas, and that will particularly impact the business case for distributed green hydrogen production.”
Following on from these thoughts was François Paquet who raised several key discussions surrounding the hydrogen economy and electrolysers.
Paquet believes hydrogen is the “missing link” within the renewable energy world and, once coupled with wind and solar farms, it could proof to be a vital complement to reach sectors that electrification cannot decarbonise.
“Renewable hydrogen is really the missing link that we know how to bring renewables everywhere in sectors where you could usually not go with electrification. This is a very important solution.
“For the very first time, we have a systemic solution allowing us to move away from some fossil fuels and decarbonise those sectors that cannot benefit from renewable based electrification.
“Of course, when it comes to the sectors that should be using hydrogen, we always have to look at where to use the resource in this early phase and where it makes most sense. I’ll tell you why I think renewable hydrogen is the obvious choice because this is a sense of your question.”
In addition to this, Paquet revealed the potential electrolysis coupled with carbon capture and storage technology could have on increasing demand for hydrogen. This could enable a reduction in carbon emission through the production of blue hydrogen to initially kickstart the hydrogen market and support investors.
“The approach is probably more secure and safer, and that’s where the electrolysers have a very strong advantage for those willing to invest,” Paquet said.
“I think this perspective is very important when you think of investing in hydrogen and that’s why I think renewable hydrogen does have all the benefits there. I think this is important in understanding that these are really important dimensions to take into account and why renewable hydrogen is the obvious choice.”
When questioned on the biggest barrier to hydrogen adoption and electrolyser technology, Paquet referenced its cost, “The biggest challenge is the cost. It’s very clear the cost, the cost, the cost needs to be reduced, and that’s the way policy needs to focus in priority to get that cost down. And currently, policy needs to make that choice.
“We’ve seen the excellent work of the European Commission last year with seven packages tabled. What I must say is that this is going in the right direction, but we need some improvements here and there. Congratulations on the European Commission for defining and setting targets for the use of renewable hydrogen in industry.”
The final speaker on H2 View’s electrolyser special was Kasper Tipsmark who offered participants a deeper look into electrolyser’s, its potential and the barriers preventing its scaling up.
Referencing the 54GW planned pipeline globally for electrolyser capacity, Tipsmark said that the industry would have done “a really good job” should this be attained. Tipsmark told the webinar, “I think if in eight years’ time and we see that we have 54GW installed capacity of electrolysis, I would say we’ve done a really good job of building electrolysis.
“We both need to build, first of all, infrastructure, and we need to build demand. We need to build value chains. We need to build industry and manufacturing industry. We need to build a supply chain such suppliers throughout Europe and the world, for that matter.
“So having succeeded with 54GW, it would be a tremendous achievement in just eight years.”
With this Tipsmark also referenced how electrolysis has only just been given a primary focus and thus technological innovation is now being progressed in such a manner that it seems inevitable that a breakthrough will be achieved in optimising the technology.
Tipsmark said, “There is a technological potential that we can tap into here. We have a lot of opportunities for optimising the technology itself, even though electrolysis has been around for more than 100 years industrially.
“It has not really developed. It hasn’t seen the same focus or I’m driving down both cost and improving the technology, as you’ve seen, for instance, in the wind power industry on the inside.
“This is something we are only starting with now in the industry as a whole, and we’ll see some of the benefits we can harvest will kick in fast. And of course, as we go further along this technology journey improvements will become harder and harder over time.
“Again, it will be supported by a larger and larger market, so we’ll continue to see improvements.”
If you missed this insightful webinar you can watch it on demand here.
Making hydrogen happen
This March, H2 View will explore A Climate for Action and Investment in Europe in an immersive virtual event that features some of the leading stakeholders and influencers in hydrogen, including a Women in Green Hydrogen panel.
Confirmed speakers include the Hydrogen Europe, Clean Hydrogen Partnership, FiveT Hydrogen, Airbus, Nel, BMW, Michelin and more.
Further information on the event, agenda and confirmed speakers can be found here.
To book your ticket for €79, click here.