Forget cars, green hydrogen will boost crops | WIRED

by The Insights

He says large-scale industrial applications, like Project Yuri, are what will really drive demand. “A company like Yara will need huge amounts of green hydrogen,” he says.

Another industry that is taking a keen interest in green hydrogen is freight transportation. In Australia, diesel-powered trucks significantly reduce the carbon budget. But electric trucks are not a viable solution, whether on long-haul routes to move goods to and from remote areas or when moving heavy loads, such as around mines. “If we can start to decarbonise that with hydrogen, that’s a great application,” says Steven Percy, principal investigator at the Victorian Hydrogen Hub at Swinburne University in Melbourne. Hydrogen fuel cell electric trucks will soon rumble around the Sun Metals zinc refinery near Townsville in Queensland, northeast Australia, powered by green hydrogen generated by a solar farm and a electrolyser operation next door. A 40-ton, 500-hp hydrogen truck was also unveiled at the European Energy Transition Conference in Geneva last year.

But perhaps hydrogen’s greatest potential lies in its ability to store energy for rainy days. While fossil fuels are stores of energy from prehistoric sunlight, hydrogen can be used to store solar energy from the previous 12 hours. “You need green hydrogen to keep increasing the amount of renewable energy,” Mowill says. Once a power grid reaches a critical mass of renewable inputs from sources like wind and solar, something has to happen to stabilize and smooth out those peaks and troughs in supply and demand. “You can’t solve this problem with batteries; it’s on a scale that wouldn’t be practical,” Mowill says. “Hydrogen is a really good way to balance that out.”

And unlike batteries, hydrogen can be transported efficiently. It can be compressed into liquid hydrogen, which requires some energy, or it can be converted into ammonia, which is already transported around the world, and then “cracked” into hydrogen and nitrogen at its destination.

Countries like Japan and South Korea, which are home to energy-intensive industries (such as steel and car and ship manufacturing) but lack the renewable resources to power them sustainably, are keen to to import hydrogen from countries with an excess of renewable energy. , such as Australia.

“The idea is essentially to produce these hydrogen molecules or these direct derivatives of hydrogen in countries with abundant renewable resources”, explains Carlos Trench, head of hydrogen projects at Engie Australia and New Zealand. “Then you transport the molecules – whether it’s ammonia or any other derivative – and then you convert that molecule back into green energy at the destination where a direct renewable energy development is not possible.”

Japan has already declared its intention to be a world leader in the hydrogen economy as part of its carbon neutral strategy. South Korea hopes hydrogen will provide about a third of its energy by 2050.

But Percy points out that despite all the buzz, green hydrogen is currently still a small player in the global decarbonization game. “It’s really on a very small scale right now,” he says. But it’s getting stronger.

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