The hydrogen stream: High gas prices mean cost competitiveness.

New investments and partnerships announced this week see hydrogen projects developing across Europe, India, Asia and more. The current climate of high prices for natural gas has led one company to exclaim that green hydrogen is now competitive with its fossil fuel produced ‘grey’ counterpart, and research continues into optimizing hydrogen supply chains and smoothing its integration into the energy landscape.

October 22, 2021

Green hydrogen is already cost-competitive with grey hydrogen, said Norway’s Aker Clean Hydrogen in its third-quarter results, adding that it expects to make the first investment decision for two projects in 2022. “We have made further progress to make hydrogen affordable. Some of our Norwegian projects under development show hydrogen cost levels of US$ 3.5-4.5/kg [€3.01-3.87/ kg]. In the current market environment, with very high gas prices, this matches the cost levels for grey hydrogen,” Knut Nyborg, Chief Executive Officer of Aker Clean Hydrogen, commented in a press release. The company is primarily focusing on Norway, but it is also eyeing collaborations and investments in other countries, including Tunisia.

Statkraft, the hydropower company fully owned by the Norwegian state, wrote that green hydrogen is necessary to reach the objectives stated in the Paris Agreement, adding that Europe will rely on green hydrogen more than other continents. “About 10% (9.6%) of global power demand will come from green hydrogen production in 2050 and more than 20% for Europe in the Low Emissions Scenario,” wrote the Oslo-based renewable energy company. Statkraft said that costs of electrolyzers have fallen by 60% over the last five years, adding it expects that investment costs for green hydrogen production will fall an additional 60% by 2050. In its report published on Thursday, Statkraft also reported that solar power capacity would grow by a factor of 21, and wind power by a factor of 7 in the next 30 years.

An MIT-led team presented a framework to analyze how to optimize electric power and hydrogen supply chain infrastructure. “Hydrogen is an interesting energy carrier to explore, but understanding the role for hydrogen requires us to study the interactions between the electricity system and a future hydrogen supply chain,” Dharik Mallapragada, a research scientist at the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), said in a press release published on Thursday. In a recent paper, researchers from MIT and Shell presented the framework, which takes into account interactions with the electric grid and the spatio-temporal variations in energy demand and supply. “The developed framework co-optimizes infrastructure investment and operation across the electricity and hydrogen supply chain under various emissions price scenarios,” MIT reported. The paper applied the framework to the U.S. Northeast case. “Specifically, P2G [Power-to-Gas] provides grid flexibility to support VRE integration without the round-trip efficiency penalty and additional cost incurred by P2G2P routes. This form of sector coupling leads to: (a) VRE generation increase by 13–56%, and (b) total system cost (and levelized costs of energy) reduction by 7–16% under deep decarbonization scenarios. Both effects increase as hydrogen demand for other end-uses increases, more than doubling for a 97% decarbonization scenario as H2 demand quadruples,” reads the academic paper published in September on the Energy & Environmental Science journal.

The Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Taiwan Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Partnership on Thursday, committing to improving bilateral engagement. “UK-Taiwan collaboration is growing fast in low carbon energy development, especially offshore wind. And Taiwan’s domestic fuel cell industry which is already a vital part of global hydrogen supply chains is increasingly strong and innovative,” John Dennis, Representative of British Office Taipei, commented in the official announcement. UK-Taiwan collaboration opportunities include the deployment of hydrogen in medium-to-long distance public road transportation, the production of green hydrogen from offshore wind, and collaborations in third markets.

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Inovyn, a subsidiary of UK-based Ineos, has announced investment plans to upgrade existing production at a site in Runcorn in Northwest England, in order to supply compressed fuel-cell quality hydrogen to mobility, mostly trucks buses, and power generation sectors. “Specifically, the investment will deliver dedicated on-site facilities for the purification and compression of existing low carbon, fuel cell quality hydrogen for subsequent loading and transportation and distribution to fuelling stations across the UK,” Ineos wrote on Wednesday. Earlier this week, the British multinational chemicals company announced €2bn investment in green hydrogen.

India’s state-owned Gail natural gas company wants to build the country’s largest green hydrogen plant in the next 12-14 months. As written in an article by Millennium Post then re-published by the natural gas corporation, Gail aims to buy a 10 MW electrolyzer to produce 4.5 tons of green hydrogen daily. Gail, which has already launched a global tender, is looking into a couple of different potential sites for the plant, including one at Vijaipur, in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

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