Hydrogen has been touted by scientists and companies as a potential “clean” replacement for fossil fuels such as natural gas as it does not produce carbon dioxide when burnt. Companies and governments are this year renewing efforts to investigate whether hydrogen could help decarbonise key sectors of the global economy, from industry and power to shipping and transport. The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) has described 2019 as a year of “unprecedented momentum” for hydrogen, with 50 policies or targets introduced globally to support its development. Hydrogen projects planned across the world in coming years by major companies, include Norwegian oil major Equinor, Swedish power company Vattenfall, Japan’s Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, National Grid of the UK and Toyota. For energy majors, hydrogen, which can be produced from fossil fuels, could offer a way of securing a function for their natural gas reserves in an environment where more governments are adopting policies to end their contribution to global warming. Hydrogen – whose clean credentials depend on how it is produced – still polarises opinion, with critics questioning costs and safety. But companies behind hydrogen schemes are hopeful this time will be different. This time the potential uses of clean hydrogen are many. Planned schemes include powering ferries on hydrogen, using it as a replacement for natural gas in domestic boilers, power generation, and as a way of storing excess electricity produced by renewables such as wind and solar on particularly sunny and windy days. In Eemshaven, on the northern tip of the Netherlands, Swedish energy company Vattenfall is exploring whether part of a gas-fired power plant can be successfully converted to run on hydrogen by 2025.
FT 30th July 2019 read more »