“Water will be the coal of the future”, Jules Verne asserted in The Mysterious Island as far back as 1874.
On December 2015, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement which intends to limit the average global warming below the pre-industrial period to 2 degrees Celsius: it sets the maximum temperature increase to 1.5 degrees. It also aims to direct private and state financial flows towards low greenhouse gas emissions development and improve adaptability to climate change. The agreement represents a global decision to start transitioning to a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way of life. This energetic revolution will provide a productive shift from fossil fuels to renewable sources.
Right now, the world is still far from reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Renewable energy sources should be able to cover a greater share of global supply compared to the fraction they are providing at the moment, for example by being integrated in developed industry, energy and mobility infrastructures.
Renewable sources are uncontrollable by nature and hydrogen represents one of the most advanced solutions to store this discontinuous resource. Lithium-ion batteries might constitute another option, yet they cannot compete with hydrogen in terms of scale. In fact, a hydrogen storage facility can hold about 1,000 times as much electricity as the world’s largest lithium-ion battery storage.
What are the pros of turning to hydrogen?
- It is not just a renewable source, it is infinite. Hydrogen is a basic earth element, thus there is no possibility of it running out like other sources of energy.
- Hydrogen energy is clean and non-toxic. When hydrogen is burned, it does not emit pollutants. This means that it does not harm human health.
- It is eco-friendly. Nuclear energy, coal and gasoline are toxic, non-renewable or difficult to retrieve. On the other hand, hydrogen is widely available in nature.
- It is efficient. Compared to other sources of energy, it produces more energy per pound of fuel. This means that given the same amount of fuel, a car fueled with hydrogen will cover more distance.
And what about the cons?
Hydrogen is expensive: both steam reforming and electrolysis are expensive and time-consuming production processes. This is the reason why, although being a widely available and non-pollutant solution, hydrogen is so underused globally. Moreover, it is difficult to store and transport. In order to be stored, hydrogen has to be compressed into liquid state and retained at low temperature, allegedly -252 C°. As a consequence, transportation and shipping is challenging. Furthermore, the substance is highly inflammable, thus contributing to the difficulty of transportation. Finally, it depends on fossil fuels: in order to separate hydrogen from oxygen, non-renewable energy sources are needed. Thus, a total transition to an economy completely relying on renewables is still far from turning into reality.
The BaxEnergy open platform, Energy Studio Pro® is able to monitor and optimize power plants data and operations across multiple technologies and manufacturers (OEMs). Over time, the company monitored 100 GW of renewable energy (wind, PV, hydro, geothermal) in over 20 countries and 4 continents. The BaxEnergy “intelligence” is expanding its expertise and know-how in the field of hydrogen too, with the final goal of exploiting natural sources and flexible, secure technologies to safeguard our environment in the smartest way.