Green Hydrogen | UPSC
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
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 !
- 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
HOW IS HYDROGEN GENERATED?
- 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.
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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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- Compressed hydrogen tanks are capable of storing energy for long periods of time.
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.
IMPACT OF GREEN HYDROGEN
- Hydrogen as a fuel is a reality in countries like the United States, Russia, China, France and Germany.
- 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