New Energy: Hydrogen

By Isabella Diez

The demand for clean energy and net-zero emissions is apparent, now more than ever. The global climate is in a crisis and in order to meet long-term climate goals, changes must be made now. 

Governments have the opportunity to actively work towards this goal. As countries and governments begin to reel back from the pandemic, the implementation of clean energy can aid in economic recovery. 

Five years since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, six countries have had net-zero emission obligations written into law and six other countries have proposed similar legislation, with Canada being one. With these commitments, the demand for global hydrogen is expected to increase five times by 2070. 

Hydrogen is a clean fuel that is produced from fossil fuels, biomass, and water which when consumed in a fuel cell, produces water. Why hydrogen? Hydrogen has the ability to remove carbon or carbonaceous deposits in a variety of sectors such as transportation. Industries such as steel and iron have difficulty reducing their emissions and will benefit from the use of hydrogen. Hydrogen is also able to improve air quality as well as strengthen energy security.

“Hydrogen is one of the clean energies that can be the key to the realization of net-zero emissions,” states Takeo Kato, Managing Officer & COO of Performance Materials Business Unit, Mitsui & Co.

The target sectors for hydrogen as clean energy are transportation, buildings, and power generation. Within transportation, both shipping and aviation have the ability for hydrogen fuels to be used. In power generation, hydrogen used with ammonia can be used in turbines in order to increase power system flexibility. 

As hydrogen gains momentum, many countries have new policies which support the production of hydrogen through investments with an emphasis on the transportation sector. There are approximately 50 targets and policies currently implemented globally that fund and support hydrogen. 

Although there are many opportunities and benefits to using hydrogen, there are also many challenges. The current cost for producing hydrogen is high but could fall by 30% by 2030 as the costs for renewables decline. The infrastructure for the production of hydrogen is slow-moving. The number of refueling stations affects the price for consumers since the delivery of hydrogen to these stations takes highly detailed coordination and organizational efforts. 

Trudeau has planned for Canada to become one of the leading producers of hydrogen. The government has announced that the Hydrogen Strategy to do this will be through investment and partnerships to increase hydrogen production. This will not only be globally beneficial but Canada will also see direct benefits. By 2050, this market is expected to hit just about $12 trillion. In conjunction with the government’s A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy climate plan, the Hydrogen Strategy will work towards net-zero emissions. 

Dr. Faith Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency states, “Hydrogen is today enjoying unprecedented momentum. The world should not miss this unique chance to make hydrogen an important part of our clean and secure energy future.

Now is the time to take advantage of hydrogen as a new energy source. Hydrogen has the potential to be the future for clean, secure, and affordable energy.

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels

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