Green Hydrogen | UPSC

Green Hydrogen | UPSC

      HEADLINES:

Why green hydrogen may be the clean fuel for future

      WHY IN NEWS:

Declining costs of renewables and urgency to curb greenhouse gas emissions is accelerating potential growth of hydrogen in political and business perspectives

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Science and Technology

      LEARNING: 

For PRELIMS it is important to understand the production and important features .

For MAINS go through applications , advantages and disadvantages of Green Hydrogen . Let us dive in !

      ISSUE: 

Hydrogen is gradually becoming a part of the clean-energy mix for a sustainable and affordable energy future.

GREEN HYDROGEN

Hydrogen is a non-toxic colourless gas, even when it’s referred to as green hydrogen.

  • It’s the most abundant element – it’s estimated that 90% of all atoms are hydrogen atoms, comprising around three quarters of the total mass in the universe.

Green Hydrogen _ UPSC

Green Hydrogen | UPSC

HOW IS HYDROGEN GENERATED?

There are no natural hydrogen deposits on earth, it has to be extracted from other compounds by a chemical process.

  • The vast majority of industrial hydrogen is currently produced from natural gas.
  • This process is known as steam methane reforming or SMR.
  • Producing hydrogen in this way is sometimes referred to as brown or grey or even blue hydrogen!

GREEN HYDROGEN PRODUCTION

  • Hydrogen can also be produced by the electrolysis of water.
  • This is by using an electric current to break water, H2O, into its component elements of hydrogen and oxygen.

If this electric current is produced by a renewable source (e.g. Solar PV or a wind turbine), the clean hydrogen produced is known as green hydrogen.

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WHAT ARE THE BY-PRODUCTS ?

  • Steam methane reforming (SMR) reacts with methane in natural gas with high-temperature steam in the presence of a catalyst.
  • This produces hydrogen, and ultimately carbon dioxide, CO2.
  • As natural gas is relatively cheap, the hydrogen produced is also relatively cheap.

The standard SMR process has the considerable disadvantage of releasing large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere.

  • CO2 is well known to be a highly significant greenhouse gas.
  • It’s less well known that methane itself has a global warming potential that is 85 times higher that CO2.
  • So any small gas leakage of methane from its source and on through the process is also a significant contributor to climate change.
  • The unlimited production of hydrogen using SMR is a major issue in our attempts to avoid climate disaster.

CARBON CAPTURE AND STORAGE

  • Versions of steam methane reformation where the CO2 is captured and stored in a stable form has been proposed.

Elsewhere this method –Carbon Capture and Storage has been proposed as a better alternative.

  • CCS may well be workable, however there are doubts around our ability to manage and finance the storage.
  • Doubts still exist on capturing carbon for future decades and probably centuries or even millennia.

ADVANTAGES OF GREEN HYDROGEN

  • 100 % SUSTAINABLE : Green hydrogen does not emit polluting gases either during combustion or during production.
  • STORABLE : Hydrogen is easy to store, which allows it to be used subsequently for other purposes.
  • VERSATILE : Green hydrogen can be transformed into electricity or synthetic gas and used for domestic, commercial, industrial or mobility purposes.
  • TRANSPORTABLE : It can be mixed with natural gas at ratios of up to 20 % and travel through the same gas pipes and infrastructure .

DISADVANTAGES OF GREEN HYDROGEN

  • HIGH COST : Energy from renewable sources, which are key to generating green hydrogen through electrolysis, is more expensive to generate.
  • HIGH ENERGY CONSUMPTION : The production of hydrogen in general and green hydrogen in particular requires more energy than other fuels.
  • SAFETY ISSUES : Hydrogen is a highly volatile and flammable element and extensive safety measures are therefore required to prevent leakage and explosions.

APPLICATIONS

ELECTRICITY AND DRINKING WATER GENERATOR

  • These two elements are obtained by reacting hydrogen and oxygen together in a fuel cell.
  • This process has proved very useful on space missions.

EXAMPLE
It provides crews with water and electricity in a sustainable manner.

ENERGY STORAGE

  • Compressed hydrogen tanks are capable of storing energy for long periods of time.

Thus they are also easier to handle than lithium-ion batteries because they are lighter.

TRANSPORT AND MOBILITY

  • Hydrogen’s great versatility allows it to be used in those consumption niches that are very difficult to decarbonise, such as heavy transport, aviation and maritime transport.
  • There are already several projects under way in this area, such as Hycarus and Cryoplane.
  • These projects are promoted by the European Union (EU) and aim to introduce it in passenger aircraft.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

IMPACT OF GREEN HYDROGEN

  • Hydrogen as a fuel is a reality in countries like the United States, Russia, China, France and Germany.

Others like Japan are going even further and aspire to become a hydrogen economy. 

  • Hydrogen technologies will supply 18 per cent of the world’s total energy needs in future.
  • It will be able to power around 425 million vehicles around the world by 2050– Hydrogen Council.
  • The European Commission’s Energy Roadmap for 2050 has proposed that 85 per cent of energy will be produced by renewables.
     SOURCES:DownToEarth | Green Hydrogen | UPSC

 

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