Greenstat AS writes about the potential role of hydrogen in Norway’s transition to a zero emission society.
Green hydrogen is defined as hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources. Around 97% of Norwegian electricity production comes from hydropower and with a decline in consumption, new ways of utilising this green power are needed. In the form of hydrogen, surplus and trapped renewable energy could be stored, distributed and made accessible to growing zero emission markets, both in Norway and abroad, placing Norway in a unique position when it comes to green hydrogen production.
Hydrogen is an important piece of the zero-emission puzzle
Hydrogen has some fantastic characteristics as a zero-emission energy carrier. It has a very high energy to weight density and only emits water. It can be produced anywhere from renewable energy and works very well as a range extender in existing electrical drive lines. However, hydrogen must not be seen as the only solution. Hydrogen will, in combination with batteries and a share of sustainable biofuel, play a key role in the transition to a 100% zero-emission transport.
In Norway, with 2.5 million cars and a record-breaking high penetration of BEV (battery electric vehicles), there are almost 2.4 million fossil cars that need to be replaced. The need for hydrogen as a part of the zero-emission solution for cars, buses and heavy-duty vehicles seems both necessary and beneficial.
With car manufacturers like Hyundai, Toyota and Honda already selling commercial models, the hydrogen car market is an important first market to develop in Norway, but the hydrogen consumption in this market is small compared to buses, long-haul trucks and other heavier vehicles. Also, the maritime market is highly interesting. A lot of the remaining emissions in Norway come from this sector and it is also a sector wherein Norway has a long tradition for developing energy systems that are exported all over the world. Last but not least, replacing coal
with hydrogen in the process industry, i.e. in chemical redox reactions, opens up for a large hydrogen consumption and huge reduction of CO2 emissions.
Regulatory authorities must keep apace of technology development
As the technology development speeds up, it is important that national authorities are involved in early stage projects so that regulatory issues do not slow down the implementation due to lack of knowledge.
For road transport and hydrogen production, international standards could be applied, and Norway and other countries could in most cases copy standards and regulations already available.
When it comes to maritime projects, Norway is in a unique position to be a frontrunner, hence it has been paramount to get the Norwegian Maritime Authority involved to make sure that hydrogen solutions at sea are done in a safe manner and that necessary standards and regulations are being developed.
During a Norwegian delegation trip to Japan in 2016, organised by Innovation Norway in co-operation with NCE Maritime Cleantech, Greenstat, together with CMR Prototech, the National Maritime Authority and the National Road Authority (responsible for the national ferries), visited major companies to get an update on the hydrogen plans for Japan. This was an eye opener to the Norwegian delegation and led to a series of positive actions upon their return.
In 2016 the National Maritime Authority established a dedicated group set to work with new energy carriers in shipping, including hydrogen. The National Road Authority also launched a development project for the first hydrogen ferry in Norway wherein technology and regulatory issues could be tested.
The good news is, for now at least, the regulatory authorities in Norway are keeping up the speed.
Well-designed production plants could remove barriers
For several reasons many people fear hydrogen, often without ever having tested a hydrogen vehicle or visited a production plant. Traditionally, hydrogen plants are a part of industrial process plants not accessible to the public and with a design that is not aimed at making it look appealing. A way to overcome some of the scepticism among the population is to build future production plants in a way that makes them attractive to people. Never compromising on safety, but still challenging the ways things have been done in the past. By doing this, the social acceptance of hydrogen production plants will be higher and that the interest in hydrogen as an energy carrier will be increased.
Green distribution of green Hydrogen
Hydrogen can be distributed compressed, liquefied or through a pipeline. Normally, compressed hydrogen is distributed on trucks, whereas distribution via ships will be liquefied. By letting the distribution trucks and ships be fuelled by hydrogen, the green hydrogen value chain goes all the way from production to consumer. The same goes for the distribution of hydrogen via pipelines.
Regarding the export of hydrogen, the most efficient way of doing this is by liquefying the hydrogen (-253°C). This reduces the volume of hydrogen by a factor of 1,000. Producing and transporting liquefied hydrogen is very similar to LNG technology, which is a very well-known technology and industry in Norway. Hence, Norway has a good base to also be successful in developing a hydrogen export industry.
As of today, Japan imports hydrogen from Australia. Though, this hydrogen is produced from coal and because of the CO2 emissions that result from the production, this hydrogen cannot be defined as ‘green’. In the future, when CO2 emissions most likely will be higher taxed, green hydrogen (which is more expensive to produce), will be more competitive towards hydrogen from fossil resources, also from an economical point of view.
In the near future, green hydrogen will most likely play an important role to solve the zero-emission puzzle. It is important that regulatory authorities maintain the speed of technology development to avoid a bureaucratically delay of the introduction of hydrogen in the different sectors. To make green hydrogen competitive, there must be a focus on safe, cost-efficient and cool hydrogen factories. Norway can use its well-proven technology knowhow from the LNG industry to ensure a safe and efficient global export of green hydrogen.
This article will appear in Pan European Networks: Government 24, which will be published in January, 2018.