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⚡ "The Growth of Green Hydrogen"

Renewable Energy SmartPod

Photo by Stephan Louis / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Sean McMahon
Guest: Michael Ducker | Vice President, Renewable Fuels & Western Region | Mitsubishi Power
Category: ⚡ Renewable Energy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:33] “We've got blue, green, gray, brown, turquoise [hydrogen]. Ultimately, […] the colors are really generally intended to designate the process by which the hydrogen is made. So for instance, gray hydrogen is commonly referred to as the traditional method of how we have hydrogen produced today. This is a process of taking natural gas and converting it to hydrogen through a process known as steam methane reforming. But this produces CO2 […]. And so as we have looked at different uses for hydrogen, this is where some of the colors have evolved.”

[3:08] “If we actually capture the CO2 in the process that I just referenced, that's often referred to as blue hydrogen. And then conversely, we have cases where we talk about green hydrogen, which is really looking at taking renewable energy or non-fossil fuel resources through a process known as electrolysis, which […] uses electricity, converts water into hydrogen and oxygen. […] Our focus is on really trying to derive carbon free forms of hydrogen. And so whether that's through CO2 capture or using renewable energy, all those are different exciting ways to produce hydrogen, and of course, have no impact from a carbon emission standpoint.”

[4:14] “Electrolyzers are really a technology that […] decompose[s] water into its elemental forms of hydrogen and oxygen. […] It actually dates back to 1940 […] and […] electrolysis has been around even prior to that. So what's really changed today is that we're now seeing the need to use electrolyzers to effectively support the conversion of renewable energy into hydrogen. And whether that is being used for fuel applications, say in the transportation sector, or in the power side, […] where we're actually over producing […] excess energy. [You can] run it through an electrolyzer to be able to effectively convert electricity in the form of storable energy, that being hydrogen.”

[5:27] “There certainly has been a huge momentum and groundswell in the past year and a half, two years around hydrogen. And I think even stepping back, […] early 2000s, we were talking a lot about hydrogen the hydrogen economy was was just upon us, but it never came to fruition. And why is that? Well, the market signals back in the early 2000s [were] fundamentally different than they are today. Today, we have an unprecedented amount of renewable energy that is installed on the grid at low costs. We have state and local governments, we've got utilities that are committing to carbon free targets within the next several decades and they're making significant investments to achieve those goals. And so all this comes together into what is the most cost effective and reliable way to meet these carbon free goals? And what are the technologies out there? And that's really why there's the promise and excitement around hydrogen today is these very tangible commitments that are being made by policymakers, by industries. […] We've got some of the biggest corporations that are saying that [they are] no more buying any energy that doesn't come in a carbon free fashion. And so this is what's really created that need for hydrogen.”

[7:20] “I think one of the most important things to recognize is that green hydrogen as a storage medium and lithium ion batteries do not compete. They work in concert with each other, solving different use cases. And both technologies are going to be incredibly important in a future where we're looking at wide scale deployment of renewables and again, a need for reliable affordable energy on the power grid.”

[7:51] “When we're looking at [the] intra-daily energy imbalances, where we've got the proverbial sun is up in the middle of day, we've got great solar resources. The sun comes down at the end of the day, what do we do as people are coming home from work? That's a great use case for batteries, you were charging in the middle of the day where we're peaking. And late in the day, lithium ion batteries can help try to close that gap between demand and supply.”

[8:15] “Hydrogen works a little differently in the sense of what happens when we have sustained periods of overproduction. For instance, in the spring months, where we've got an overproduction of renewables consistently. We've got say the spring melt, that's also supporting hydro power. And how do we transition that to periods of gluts, say deep in the summer, […] where we don't have enough power during those periods of time. So that's where hydrogen plays a more fundamental role is this longer duration, more seasonal balancing. It's becoming more and more important, as we have larger and larger penetrations of renewables. So in short, again, batteries and hydrogen are working in concert with each other, but two very different use cases that are helping us meet those overall targets […].”

[13:19] “Really what we're focused on right now is scale. […] Technology is not the challenge, it's really about getting cost down. And costs are a function of scale. And scale is also a function of market needs. So we've got all this coming together right now. But when we look at how to get more hydrogen technologies into the market, and more electrolyzer market, it really is a function of achieving more scale. So how do we make systems bigger? How do we automate processes better? […] And we're really just starting to scratch the surface. Because from a global standpoint, total hydrogen production from electrolysis accounted for about 3% last year.”

[14:35] “Ultimately, every industry will [benefit from hydrogen]. […] Hydrogen really is a catalyst to bring industries together. […] How great is it if I can take a transportation application, and actually piggyback it off of a large scale power application? Now we have these synergies between industries. […] I think it's more of a question of who's going to move first. And with the scale applications, we believe power is most prime to be the first mover, but that's going to naturally bring in some of these other industries, who can then benefit from the scale that power is bringing. And at the end of the day, […] the most exciting part is that this is a technology that's bringing multiple industries together to decarbonize at the same time, as opposed to trying to solve these problems discreetly and independently.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 35 min | 🗓️ 08/17/2021
✅ Time saved: 33 min