The Hydrogen Stream: GCL will use Ethiopian natural gas to feed its ammonia and blue hydrogen

Plus there is news this week of a green hydrogen tie-up in India, plans for another German production facility, and of new hydrogen transport networks for Switzerland and the U.S.

Having announced its intent to move into the hydrogen business, Hong Kong registered energy company GCL Group yesterday held a hydrogen conference at which it was revealed Ethiopian natural gas will power the ammonia which it will use to generate blue hydrogen. The gas, secured under Belt & Road agreements dating back to 2013, will be piped to Djibouti where it will feed 4 million tons per year of ammonia feedstock for hydrogen, to power “steel smelting, refining, and power generation” in China, according to GCL vice chairman Zhu Gongshan.

Blue hydrogen, which requires the use of carbon capture and storage to mitigate the fossil fuel emissions of natural gas use, would be the result, said GCL, with Zhu adding, the Ethiopian proven natural gas reserves run to 190.7 billion cubic meters, with a “first-phase annual output [of] 3.5 billion cubic meters, which can be used for 40 consecutive years.”

Australian iron ore company Fortescue Metals has signed an agreement with Indian industrial conglomerate JSW Group to explore green hydrogen project deployment in India. A statement about the arrangement, issued yesterday, said the partners would consider renewable hydrogen production and its use in steel making, hydrogen mobility, green ammonia and “other mutually agreed industrial applications in India.”

Four hydrogen-related projects are among 32 which will receive a slice of a €118 million EU funding pot, it was announced this week. One Spanish recipient is aiming to use gasification cracking and pyrolysis to produce 1,600 tons per year of hydrogen from 12,000 tons of municipal rubbish. “The upgrading and combination of state-of-the-art gasification technologies for the cracking and pyrolysis employed to produce hydrogen represent the innovative elements of the project,” said a summary of the project published by the European Commission on Tuesday.

A second project in Spain aims to use photoelectrocatalytic technology to directly use solar energy to electrolyze green hydrogen without any external energy input. A third project, in Valcamonica, in the eastern Lombardy region of Italy, will use what was labeled ‘green hydrogen’ generated from a waste-to-energy facility to meet local industrial, logistics and transport needs, including powering trains. A project team in Poland secured funding for two polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyzers to produce 710 tons of green hydrogen per year with the help of a bespoke electrolyser stack which it is hoped will offer 5% energy efficiency savings.

Hydrogen finance

Financial instruments dedicated to backing green hydrogen projects will be offered by EU lender the European Investment Bank (EIB) as part of a consultancy services agreement signed with industry organization Hydrogen Europe yesterday. The EIB will also offer financial advisory and technical advice to the hydrogen umbrella association as part of the deal.

French industrial gas supplier Air Liquide will build a 30 MW renewable hydrogen plant in Oberhausen, Germany, in the first project to take shape under a framework PEM electrolyzer agreement with Siemens Energy, the French partner said yesterday. Air Liquide said the initial, 20 MW phase of the project – which is being built with the help of German government funds – should be operational by early 2023. “What is unique about this project is that the electrolyzer will be integrated into the existing local [hydrogen and oxygen] pipeline infrastructure of Air Liquide to supply key industries and mobility with renewable hydrogen in one of the most industrialized regions of Germany,” said a note about the plans.

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The Socar Energy Switzerland subsidiary of Azerbaijan’s state energy company will work with Swiss energy services provider Alpiq and Swiss utility EW Höfe to build an electrolysis plant with a capacity of up to 10 MW in Freienbach. A statement made about the plans on Wednesday said the Swiss facility would start to be commissioned late next year and would produce 1,000-1,200 tons of green hydrogen annually for transport, with the plant’s waste heat to be fed into a “regional district heating network that is currently being established.” Electrolysis will be powered by “renewables,” according to the statement.

The hydrogen produced will feed around 200 fuel-cell electric commercial vehicles, according to the project partners. The plans feature a pipe to hydrogen vehicle fueling stations at the Fuchsberg motorway services, plus a filling station at the latter site where any excess fuel can be prepared for transport to other Swiss fueling stations which are “currently being built as part of a unique, cross-sector hydrogen mobility system operated by Hydrospider, Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility and the members of the H2 Mobility Switzerland Association.”

Hydrogen mobility

New York State-based fuel cell vehicle company Hyzon Motors has signed a memorandum of understanding with U.S. hydrogen business RenewH2 to work on liquid hydrogen production.

“RenewH2 plans to reform biogenic methane gas to generate hydrogen,” said a press release about the agreement yesterday. “The hydrogen would then be liquefied and delivered to hydrogen fueling stations which are expected to be developed in collaboration with Hyzon. Through this collaboration, the stations can be located near Hyzon customers to help provide consistent demand.”

RenewH2 said it expects to begin production at its Wyoming facility in 2023 with an ultimate daily production capacity of 300 tons, using steam methane reformer units.

British energy company BP has joined the Center for Hydrogen Safety technical community – part of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers – as an executive member.

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