What’s inexperienced hydrogen and why it has develop into a key participant within the combat towards local weather change

What’s inexperienced hydrogen and why it has develop into a key participant within the combat towards local weather change

Totally clean, from production to use, gas is one of the great global bets in the transition to a low carbon energy matrix.

The whole world has been talking about green hydrogenconsidered the energy source of the future and an essential ally in the fight against climate changes. Despite being still a nascent industry, the race for its production is at an accelerated pace in several countries, including Brazil.

The first green hydrogen plant in the country is already being built, at the Camaçari Industrial Complex (BA), and will start operating by the end of next year. In the initial phase, the plant will have a production capacity of 10 thousand tons per year.

In an integrated plan with the production of also 60 thousand tons/year of green ammonia (a product into which hydrogen can be converted), the unit, which belongs to the Brazilian chemical company Unigel, should become one of the largest global producers. In the second phase, scheduled for 2025, the estimate is to quadruple production.

Some state governments, in partnership with industrial complexes and energy companies, have also started to develop energy hub projects. green hydrogen this way. One of them is located 60 kilometers from Fortaleza (CE), in the Pecém Industrial and Port Complex, which will concentrate several companies in the segment and be a strategic gateway to the international market.

The project has two pre-contracts – the last one signed a few days ago – and more than 20 memoranda of understanding between the port, the state government and companies, which add up to 8 GW in capacity to produce 1.3 million tons of green hydrogen per annum.

In addition to the Port of Pecém, other similar pioneering initiatives are the Port of Suape, in Pernambuco, and the Port of Açu, in Rio de Janeiro.

What is green hydrogen?

Although it is the most abundant element in the universe, hydrogen is rarely found in its elemental form on the planet. Its generation takes place from a raw material that contains this element (such as water, fossil fuels and biomass) through energy consumption.

The call green hydrogen (H2 V) is that obtained by a process called water electrolysis, as explained by Ana Flávia Nogueira, a professor at Unicamp and director of the Center for Innovation in New Energies (CINE).

This method uses electric current to break the water molecule (H2O), separating the hydrogen (H2) from the oxygen (O). “But to be considered green, the voltage source used must be electricity produced by renewable sources, such as solar or wind power”, he points out.

Construction of the first green hydrogen plant in the country, by Unigel: initial investment of US$ 120 million (Unigel/Disclosure)

Why so much interest in Htwo clean?

Hydrogen extracted in this way plays a potentially important role in meeting global energy and climate goals, and is one of the key solutions in the transition to an energy matrix of low carbon.

As it uses renewable sources in its generation, this is a fuel obtained without greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, the intention is to replace the product currently adopted, called gray hydrogen, derived from fossil sources. “Today, 90% of production is through the process of reforming natural gas and coal”, explains professor Ana Flávia.

This could avoid the 830 million tonnes of carbon annually generated in the production of gas by these sources, mainly for the chemical and refining industries, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The volume corresponds to the emissions of the United Kingdom and Indonesia together for a full year.

In addition to production zero carbonthe burning of green hydrogen does not pollute either. “Its emission would only be water”, says the professor. That is, it is a 100% clean alternative, from start to finish.

Green H2 is also an alternative to store surplus volumes of wind and solar energy, avoiding the waste of clean electricity. For this, just use what is left to carry out the electrolysis, generate hydrogen gas and store it. This would be a way to maintain stability in the supply of both types of energy, which fluctuate according to environmental conditions.

– (ART/Exam)

Where can green hydrogen be used?

The H2V is a solution zero carbon with numerous applications. According to a recent study by the National Confederation of Industry (CNI) on the prospects for the use of sustainable hydrogen in Brazilian industry, the sectors with the greatest potential for use here are petroleum refining, fertilizers, steel, metallurgy, ceramics, glass and cement, which are currently major consumers of gray hydrogen.

But the versatility of the gas also allows it to be used in other sectors. “Cars, buses and trucks can move using hydrogen as fuel. This is also valid for maritime transport”, exemplifies Ana Flávia Nogueira.

Infographic of the Hidrogênio Verde Portal, a Brazil-Germany alliance, shows what the use of clean H2 in cities would be like (Portal Hidrogênio Verde/Reproduction)

What are the prospects for sustainable hydrogen?

According to an IEA report, the clean hydrogen is currently receiving strong support from governments and companies around the world, with the number of policies and projects expanding rapidly (especially with the worsening energy crisis in Europe, triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine).

By 2021, according to the entity, there were at least 200 fuel-related projects in more than 30 countries. And, globally, nearly $30 billion in government subsidies for green hydrogen have already been announced as part of the stimulus packages.

Despite this, when we think about climate goals, it is still uncertain how many of these projects will actually be carried out on time and on budget.

The main challenges are still related to profitability. “In many parts of the world, the cost of producing hydrogen from renewable electricity remains higher than fossil fuel alternatives. The pace of expansion of electrolyser capacity is critical to achieving the necessary cost reductions,” says the IEA.

Here, IPEA’s Panorama of Hydrogen in Brazil study, from August this year, also points out barriers of a technical nature. “It is necessary to develop cost-effective technologies for transport and storage, for example the use of gas pipelines to transport large amounts of hydrogen”, states the document.

Still, experts see very positive prospects for the green hydrogen in the coming years, especially in Brazil. “Everything is still very incipient if we think that we are in the frantic search for a world without carbon emissions. Not only in Brazil, worldwide. But there is no doubt that hydrogen has everything to be the fuel of the future”, comments Ana Flávia, from Unicamp.

“For hydrogen to be green, we need solar and photovoltaic energy, and here we have a lot of sun and wind. Almost 20% of our electricity already comes from these two renewable sources. Thus, Brazil has an immense opportunity”, he concludes.

Source: Exam

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