Hydrogen, the Perfect Partner for Renewable Energy

Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD



Ally Winning, European Editor, PSD

­Sky high gas prices and the war in Ukraine have made many governments rethink their energy strategies and look to renewables to cut costs for citizens and increase their own country’s energy independence. Billions of dollars are being poured into research on renewable technologies. However, renewable energy may not be an ideal solution itself, at least not for the moment. Until we can harness reliable tidal and wave power, and/or manufacture, safe, green, large-scale energy storage in sufficient quantities, the generation of energy from renewable resources will not provide constant 24/7 power for all our needs.

There are many researchers trying to find answers to the problems detailed above, but the solutions possibly won’t be available in the necessary timescale, at least not for countries like Germany. As part its commitment to go 100% renewable by 2030, the country’s government has pledged 200 billion euros to be spend on projects that include boosting the expansion of e-car charging infrastructure, hydrogen production, lowering power prices and constructing of more renewable power sources.

It still seems quite unusual to see hydrogen being classed as green or renewable, but the technology looks to be gaining ground in some quarters as a stepping stone between fossil fuels and renewable energy. In some other areas such as heavy machinery, hydrogen power may be a more permanent replacement for non-renewable energy. Industry giants such as Toyota and Hyundai are investing time and money into developing hydrogen solutions for their vehicles and other offerings. Siemens also sees hydrogen as a way to stabilize the energy grid when using fluctuating renewable resources. The company has implemented a “Power-to-X” philosophy intended to integrate renewables, backed up by hydrogen, in developed industry, energy, and mobility infrastructures, and it has also developed a range of Silyzer products to facilitate that link between hydrogen technology and renewables.

The manufacture of hydrogen itself is not as unfriendly as it once was when it was created through burning coal or lignite. That “brown” hydrogen is being replaced by “green” hydrogen, made with renewable energy. So, in effect, renewable energy sources will create the hydrogen that will be used to negate the downsides of renewable technology.

The European Union is also backing hydrogen technology. Its Commission has approved an Important Project of Common European Interest (‘IPCEI') to support research and innovation in the hydrogen technology value chain. The “IPCEI Hy2Tech” project was jointly prepared and notified by its member states of Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain. Those member states will provide up to €5.4 billion in public funding, which is expected to unlock an additional €8.8 billion in private investments. 35 companies will participate in 41 hydrogen-related projects, including the generation of hydrogen, fuel cells, storage, transportation and distribution of hydrogen, as well as end-users applications.

With the EU and industry multinationals backing the technology, it looks like we might be hearing quite a bit more on hydrogen in the future.