World is waking up to a new paradigm of Hydrogen Society. Many countries has shown renewed interest in Hydrogen Society since HMG became first automaker to successfully mass produced FCEVs.
Some experts predict hydrogen energy to account for 18% of global energy consumption, reducing CO2 emission by 6 billion tons per year. Thanks to growing interests in clean energy, hydrogen has potential to become a major force in industry’s transition to clean energy.
Crazy about hydrogen
The fourth industrial revolution was the buzzword of 2018 while Hydrogen Economy has become the new buzzword in 2019. Fossil fuels such as coal and oil have played a major role in building our prosperity and improving quality of life. However, the depletion of resources and strong environmental regulations have made the transition away from fossil fuels a necessity.
In 2002, Dr. Jeremy Rifkin published a book titled and made a bold prediction that hydrogen could be the new energy which would fundamentally change our civilization. In 2015, the IEA recognized the potential of hydrogen for the future, making the term ‘Hydrogen Economy’ a popular concept.
Four merits of hydrogen
One of the major reasons why society is beginning to make the transition from fossil fuels to hydrogen is because hydrogen has the potential to be an ultimate game changer. Hydrogen has the following four key merits: First, hydrogen is green. Unlike fossil fuel, hydrogen only emits water as a by product while generating electricity and heat. Neither CO2 nor air pollution is emitted during the process.
Second, a hydrogen Fuel Cell is highly efficient. Considering electricity generation only, efficiency is 50 to 60% and 80 to 90% when heat generation is included. In comparison, internal combustion engines are only 20 to 30% efficient. Hydrogen can be obtained from a wide variety of sources. Hydrogen accounts for 75% of the mass and 90% of the molecules in the Universe. It can be produced from water through electrolysis and also extracted from fossil fuel.
Third, hydrogen is an energy carrier which can be extracted from fossil fuels such as natural gas, oil and coal and also from water. Hydrogen is usually stored in a high pressure tank and its volume can be reduced by 800 times at -265℃, making its storage and transport easier. The cost of storage is continuing to decrease while many new technologies for large volume storage are being developed.
Fourth, hydrogen can bring changes to the energy consumption pattern. Currently, there are dominant energy sources for each type of application such as oil for automobiles, natural gas and coal for heating, coal and nuclear for electricity generation. Ultimately, a fundamental transition of producing hydrogen using fossil fuels, renewable and nuclear and using it with Fuel Cell systems will become a reality.
A Hydrogen Society has the potential to change everything and the world is already moving towards this transition.
Positive ripple effect of a hydrogen industry
The Global Hydrogen Council announced its vision to make the transition to 100% carbon free hydrogen by 2030 for transport fuel. The council also predicted a 10 fold increase in hydrogen demand by 2050. Europe, the US and Japan had an early start in the Hydrogen Society. As of 2017, Germany has 57 hydrogen stations and plans to increase its number to 400 by 2025. The UK government plans to build 1,150 hydrogen stations, starting in London.
The US government is pursuing a multipronged approach to green vehicles. For example, the California government requires automakers to meet a minimum goal of 8% of its sales in zero emission vehicles namely EV or FCEV. Its goal is to make 27% of vehicles in California green with an interim goal to deploy 60,000 FCEVs and 123 hydrogen stations by 2023.
South Korea announced its ‘Hydrogen Economy Roadmap’ earlier this year. The announcement which includes the ambitious goal of making South Korea is a statement to South Korea’s commitment.
Cumulative production of FCEVs had reached 2,000 by the end of 2018 and the goal is to increase this to 6.2 million units by 2040. As of the end of 2018, the number of hydrogen station was 14 and is set to increase to 310 and 1,200 by 2022 and 2040, respectively. Currently, hydrogen is sold at 8,000 KRW (7USD) per kg. The target is to reduce it to 6,000KRW and 3,000 KRW by 2018 and 2040 respectively to ensure wider uptake.
The government aims to increase the use of hydrogen in electricity production to 15GW (8GW in South Korea) and mandate deployment of 2.1GW of Fuel Cell for 0.94 million homes and buildings by 2040. Hydrogen is set to not only change automobiles but buildings and electricity generation and to become a major part of the economy.