QUO VADIS HYDROGEN?

Written by Chris Kwacz
3/2/2021
Interest in hydrogen is growing and it's clear, that the next significant transformation in the energy transition will be based on the hydrogen economy. At the moment, millions tons of hydrogen is being produced each year and that amount is increasing rapidly. We have vehicles, industry, house heating projects based on hydrogen solutions already. NOW and TODAY!
What if we could look even further ahead? How the HYDROGEN ECONOMY will look 5 or 10 years from now? Trying to answer that questions, we deciced to create our exclusive Quo Vadis Hydrogen Report.
The idea was quite simple. We invited TEN amazing personalities connected to Hydrogen World, and asked about their personal PREDICTIONS and THOUGHTS about the FUTURE of HYDROGEN. What can we expect in the next years? Maybe more advanced H2 vehicles on the roads? Maybe an amazing electric Zero Emission Aviation development? Or maybe spectacular growth of the H2 infrastructure like refuelling stations and delivery chains? Today, we proudly present their answers. It's like trying to look into the magic ball and reveal the mist of the future. We truly believe You will enjoy that unique story!
Thomas Goletz / Meet Hydrogen Association
The hydrogen economy is neither a myth nor a hype. In a simplified way: In 5 years' time, hydrogen-related products and services will be a profitable business. In 10 years, the clean production of hydrogen and the intensive use of hydrogen as an energy carrier in people's everyday lives will be essential for our survival. This intensive use of hydrogen is the solution to enable a high standard of living for all people - where ever they are, what ever they do. Today we are thinking ahead, some are implementing it now, tomorrow everyone will be using it. And we will ask ourselves why we did not do it earlier.
Łukasz Figaszewski / Solaris Bus
Hydrogen-fuelled buses will allow to create a complementary emission-free bus portfolio thanks to which Solaris will be braced for contemporary challenges and the diverse needs of customers with regard to range, flexibility and operability of vehicles. The manufacturer believes that the development of all electromobility branches, be that battery buses, trolleybuses or hydrogen-fuelled vehicles, should proceed in synergy, and that this process is indispensable to ensure sustainable transport of the future. Therefore, hydrogen-powered buses of Solaris will not constitute competition for battery buses or models of the Trollino series. Quite the opposite: these technologies will complement each other perfectly and they will all benefit from the technological progress of electric drivelines and their components.
The advantages of hydrogen as an energy source are indisputable. Thanks to its density and lightness, this element may constitute a clean energy source for vehicles, and it may enable them to cover a distance of up to several hundred kilometres. Considering the fact that hydrogen can be produced from water in the electrolysis process, we have a really clean source of energy. It is also a perfect solution for operators who have access to hydrogen derived from renewable sources, or from the industrial processes. Using reverse electrolysis, hydrogen fuel cells are relatively small in size and they generate energy during the operation of the vehicle. That is why they are an ideal solution when a long drive range has to be ensured.
Artur Kurasiński / AK74
The government should be a strong leader and supporter of the economic change. As long as the current government will rule in Poland we will hold to fossil economy. ONLY THE AUTHORITIES THAT UNDERSTAND THE GREEN DEAL ECONOMY can proceed with Hydrogen revolution. This is the only solution!
Nile Henry / The Blair Project
In the next 5 years, Hydrogen will play a key role as a renewable energy source for vehicles and even homes. The future will be smaller more powerful vehicle batteries powered by hydrogen fuel cells which will reduce demand on the national grid. The fuel cell from your car will be portable and, can be plugged into your house to power your home. Recharging your hydrogen powered vehicle will take less than 3 minutes and the daily commute to work will involve hydrogen powered jetpacks!
Łukasz Lindner / Polska Akademia Nauk
Hydrogen becomes our reality and we have to be prepared for that. We just see the final product like an hydrogen powered vehicle, but until that happen, there are several major changes that have to exist. We must create the brand new market, so have to begin with the transportation vehicles like buses, trains and ships. That will help us to build whole infrastructure and to create a need for huge amount of hydrogen on our market. It will speed up the reserch and whole R&D around the technology as huge companies will start to invest in Hydrogen Production, just seeing a chance for huge profits in the short period of time.
Surely the most popular PEM Fuel Cells will change radically. They'll be still common solution, but we will increase the PEM working temperature up to 120-140 Celsius. It will simplify the flow inside the membranes, help the catalysis and surely longer the life of the PEM Membranes. I believe, we will see a huge growth of SOFC cells too, because of their high capacity and usability. The SOFC Cells should be used to power up the off grid objects, like telecom broadcast points, stand alone research facilities and scientific stations. Water will be the first source to DIG on our space mine. Having own H2O we can produce Hydrogen and Oxygen, thanks to electrolysis. We could produce ROCKET FUEL! Defeating earth gravity is the biggest obstacle to deliver huge amounts of fuel into the space. Having OWN ELECRTOLYZER ONBOARD OUR SPACESHIP, we can produce enough fuel in our space mines to travel into deep space. That's why we have to build an electrolyzer that could work easily in every environment.
Amer Gaffar / Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre
What we can expect in the next years?I believe that a lot more focus will be on actual investable propositions being developed for Hydrogen related projects. This is based on many nations globally implementing hydrogen and fuel cell strategies. You can see from the industry sector that many more organisations are joining organisations like the Hydrogen Council. That paired with a lot of the education sector preparing new and related courses towards hydrogen being included in an energy transition means the outlook is definitely looking positive More H2 vehicles on the roads? Absolutely but I believe the mass market for the introduction of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will be dominated by the Heavy Goods vehicle sector with passenger vehicles in the main receiving battery electric vehicle domination. There is a definite trend in some fleets seeing Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles as their preferred route based on the quicker refuelling option that hydrogen gives them. However we are potentially likely to see hybrid alternatives involving both batteries and fuel cells powered by hydrogen in play as range extenders.
An Electric Zero Emission Aviation development? Decarbonising the aviation industry is a very tough challenge that said organisations like Airbus have an ambition to develop the world’s first zero-emission commercial aircraft by 2035. We are seeing many electric planes and fuel cell electric planes being tested at the moment so there’s definitely a positive outlook. The testing by organisations like Airbus has laid the groundwork for our future zero-emission aircraft. Right now there is a variety of hybrid-electric and hydrogen technology options being appraised and that’s exciting. Spectacular growth of the H2 infrastructure like refuelling stations and delivery chains? Or maybe something else will rise and expand? This is now becoming reality we have projects like HyNet being developed in the UK and commitments to develop the first town powered by hydrogen. We have industries all over clustering to develop investable projects around hydrogen technology. We have to treat hydrogen as something with a lot of potential but need to recognise the energy system and the range of technologies that will play a role. In order to get to ‘Green Hydrogen’ we need to consider how other assets like wind and PV will contribute to them. Excess electricity can be better suited to producing hydrogen this all has to considered when planning the roll out of infrastructure whether this is for transport or building solutions."
Chris Kwacz / Meet Hydrogen/MH.Energy
The few upcoming years that will be a massive increase of green hydrogen production. Companies producing the huge electrolyzers with few hundreds MW or even a giga Watt capacity, will create a separate rapidly growing segment of the market. The scale of green H2 production will create a cycle of cost reduction, that will start the race to deliver a KG of green H2 in a price under 2$, that could be achieved even before 2025. Such CHEAP green energy source will just boast the transport segments like hydrogen vehicles, aviation ot shipping.
Tomasz Kolinko / Trivial.Co
All the talk about hydrogen in cars will fizzle out - batteries are clearly the better solution there. On the other hand, hydrogen will become the best solution for long-term grid energy storage, and a green replacement for industrial processes that require large amounts of heat. And of course the space industry! Hydrogen is the only fuel we can easily produce in space, so we can expect a first hydrogen electrolysis plant by 2035!
Paweł Sobczak / PWSZ Konin
Hydrogen will surely become Number 1 in Energy Source Market. The energy demand is increasing rapidly and hydrogen is the solution that can provide a huge energy capacity but with zero emission and no carbon at all. Even if now, we are focusing mailny on battery energy storage solutions and that technology is being strongly supported, there are still few important questions we have to ask: Are the batteries safe? How to increase the capacity of Li-Ion batteries? What about whole recycling process of the batteries already drained?
There is no question if the electric vehicles are needed or not. The question is how to power these machines? Using the battery packs or trying to work with clean hydrogen fuel cells. Im looking at the Hydrogen future a bit different. For me it's the energy storage source and a chance to create an national energy safety for all people. That's why having a simple question: If there is a sense to store renewables energy from photovoltaic by transfering it into green hydrogen (thanks to electrolyzers) instead of charging the battery, i will answer, that we just cannot store such a huge amount of energy in the batteries now. We just do not have such advanced technology to use the nowadays batteries at the mega-storage-scale! Creating the clean, green and cheap energy fro PV, Wind and other renewables combined with electrolyzers and hydrogen powered give us OPPORTUNITY TO ENSURE ENERGY SAFETY at local and global level.

Peter Wilde / Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Expert

Hydrogen will be used as long range energy carrier, a one inch pipeline can carry as much energy as a 2 GW transmission line. No more landscape spoiling by additional transmission lines. Hydrogen refueling stations will be available at agglomerations of wind turbines, their excess energy is converted on site to hydrogen and made available to fuel hydrogen vehicles. A great business model for communities similar to current biogas plants. Farmland which has been (mis-) used for biogas production will be available for food production again. Private PV plant owners combine their plants virtually to power the community electrolyzer/fueling station.

Farmers will use their large PV plants to make own hydrogen and use this to fuel their tractors. No carbon emissions on farmlands!

Hydrogen will be safe and easy to store and transport. The potential hazards flammability and high pressure or even cryogenic temperatures will disappear and not hinder technology introduction. The general public has put initial safety concerns aside. Hindenburg is no longer the landmark example for hydrogen hazards.

Small and suitable appliances and gadgets based on hydrogen will be in every user’s hands, not only large industries. Just like widespread adoption of PV technology (remember? First solar cells in customer’s hands have been on personal calculators) and lithium batteries (digital cameras and cell phones). Such mass production technology will enable the value chains for affordable Children and young people will be acquainted to hydrogen technologies by day to day use and teachers in school will tell of the good things hydrogen can do in the first place. Remember your first contact with hydrogen in school? The little explosion in a reaction vessel? Frightening to many people until today.

Hydrogen technology will be a distinct high school and college subject. Blockchain and other digital developments will be linked to hydrogen economy, component safety in particular. Public funding for market and technology introduction is no longer required, hydrogen has become
most natural and is economically viable. In fact, electricity pricing will not inhibit industrial hydrogen use anymore.

Uh – of course: there will be hydrogen cars, planes, trucks, and and and…

And here the opinion of Devil’s advocate of one can expect if we continue the way I have seen already twice in my career:

Hydrogen will remain exotic, expensive, feared, unavailable, not supported by society. It will remain a valuable and widely used chemical but will fail to exhibit its potential on the climate challenges. Hydrogen projects will be done only when subsidized. After the end of subsidiary, the project will end. Bolzano HRS will remain the southernmost HRS. Major safety incidents kill the reputation and hinder further development and introduction.

Let us all together work that the Hydrogen success actually materializes. I do think MH is a fresh approach which may help break out of the closed system of the current hydrogen industry...

Quo Vadis Hydrogen Report. Edition 2021.

Collecting the answers, editing, merging the whole project into one piece:
Chris Kwacz / Meet Hydrogen / MH.Energy

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