The Hydrogen Stream: new plans in the Nordics, China, Canada and Australia

H2 Energy Europe is building a power-to-gas project in Denmark and Everfuel wants to put hydrogen refueling stations in Sweden. Chinese energy giant Sinopec said it wants to invest massively in hydrogen and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has said hydrogen will be the main driver for “very quick” growth in electricity demand.

August 31, 2021

Swiss energy company H2 Energy Europe has bought an 11-hectare plot near Esbjerg, in Denmark, for a power-to-X (PtX) facility to convert green electricity into hydrogen, by 2024. The gas would be used in trucks and other heavy land transport. According to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the new PtX facility will be Europe’s largest. The ministry said offshore wind farms in the North Sea grant access to the green electricity essential for the production of green hydrogen. “While this major investment is the great news of today, only a few months ago it was announced that Europe’s largest green ammonia plant is going to be built near Esbjerg as well,” wrote the ministry on Monday. Another selling point is the export opportunity to large industrial areas of Germany and elsewhere in Northern Europe. “To build a GW-sized green hydrogen production site fits into the PtX strategy of Denmark and we are looking forward to being part of this strategy by setting up the green ecosystem in Denmark,” said Clifford zur Nieden, director at H2 Energy Europe. “There are different hurdles to overcome to make the transition to hydrogen trucking, including the accelerated construction of hydrogen pipelines, but in close cooperation with the Danish government we believe that this is feasible.” The energy company already produces green hydrogen in Switzerland and has almost 50 hydrogen trucks in operation. It expects a further 1,600 hydrogen trucks to be delivered in the next few years.

That was not the only recent hydrogen development in Denmark. Last week, Danish green hydrogen infrastructure company Everfuel signed a deal with Trelleborg municipality – a first contract in its ambitious plan of rolling out hydrogen refueling stations in Sweden. “The agreement is the first of eight potential stations in the Nordic Hydrogen Corridor project, which is co-financed by the European Union’s CEF-program,” read a note released on Thursday. Trelleborg has committed “to a daily off-take increasing to 120kg per day,” said the press release. “The partners have a joint ambition to make Everfuel’s hydrogen the preferred zero-emission solution in Trelleborg and together grow the market to 500kg per day within five years of operation.” Everfuel followed up today by signing a strategic cooperation agreement with Norwegian maritime tech company TECO 2030 to deliver green hydrogen to fuel the latter’s fuel cells and fuel cell-based power generators in remote areas. “The cooperation between Everfuel and TECO 2030 will enable construction sites with no available grid connection to lower their climate footprint and reduce their emissions by switching from diesel generators to zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell generators,” read a press release about the agreement. The Danish government this week presented its Finance Bill for 2022, and included higher climate finance provision and climate-focused foreign aid. For instance, the Scandinavian country will allocate 60% of climate financial aid to adaptation measures.

Chinese energy company Sinopec has reported progress with its hydrogen plans. The company said a hydrogen refueling station in Zhejiang province is increasing output. In a separate note last week, Sinopec said it wants to become a hydrogen leader. With the power company reporting an oil and gas discovery in Xinjiang, and 13.7% growth in refinery throughput, analysts have questioned what ‘color’ of hydrogen will be involved. A conference call held yesterday, and reported by Reuters, saw Sinopec chairman Ma Yongsheng commit to a five-year investment of $4.6 billion (€3.9 billion) to set up 1,000 hydrogen refueling stations with 200,000 tonnes of annual refueling capacity. Ma added: “Sinopec will expand forcefully into making hydrogen from renewable energy … and using green hydrogen for refining.”

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has said hydrogen production, alongside electrification, could emerge as the main driver for “very quick” growth in electricity demand which could further accelerate after 2030. “Beyond the next decade, the potential growth due to electrification, hydrogen production and associated zero-emissions industry, is forecast to be even more significant, with [Australian] NEM [National Electricity Market] consumption potentially doubling by 2050,” read the press release issued today. In its NEM Electricity Statement of Opportunities report, AEMO said “the timing and scale of sectors seeking to increase energy efficiency, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce costs by fuel-switching to electricity [and, later in the report, hydrogen] is a major source of uncertainty.” AEMO included consideration of green hydrogen in its modeling within its yearly report for the first time, as momentum is building and the hydrogen economy represents “a new export opportunity.” The report considers several scenarios, including one dubbed ‘hydrogen superpower.’ Under that energy future, AEMO wrote, “by 2030, the growth of new hydrogen industries (green steel and export) is projected to account for around 17% of total electricity consumption, slightly more than the forecast influence of electrification. The additional electricity energy consumption for hydrogen production is largely for export as ammonia, although the potential for domestic hydrogen use and a large green steel industry is a growing long-term opportunity.” The regulator highlighted more than 10 projects 100 MW-plus scale hydrogen projects being developed across Australia, with many more at a smaller scale. “Government funding initiatives and strategies continue to show strong interest in, and support for, developing Australia’s hydrogen potential,” read the report.

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South Korea’s industry ministry and the Korea Gas Safety Corporation (KOGAS) have launched a hydrogen refueling station safety monitoring system. “The system transmits, in real time, the operating status of the charging station’s safety devices, such as gas leak detectors and compressors and core facilities of the charging station, through a dedicated program installed at each charging station, to the Korea Gas Safety Corporation situation room,” read the note today. According to the South Korean government, the charging stations and Korea Gas Safety Corporation can take immediate responses.

Canadian energy company Imperial Oil has said it wants to produce around 20,000 barrels – 3 million liters – of renewable diesel per day in 2024 at its Strathcona refinery near Edmonton, Alberta. ExxonMobil has a 69.6% stake in the company. Imperial Oil intends to produce blue hydrogen but has not explained where the carbon storage facility would be located. “Renewable diesel production will source blue hydrogen [hydrogen produced from natural gas with carbon capture and storage] to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions relative to conventional hydrogen production. Approximately 500,000 tons of CO2 are expected to be captured annually. The blue hydrogen and biofeedstock will be combined with a proprietary catalyst to produce premium low-carbon diesel fuel,” read the note released on Wednesday. The hydrogen would primarily be used for transport. Imperial Oil is in partnership discussions with the governments of Alberta and British Columbia.

U.K.-based Powerhouse Energy Group has signed a binding exclusivity agreement to deploy its clean energy technology in continental Europe. “The agreement with Hydrogen Utopia International plc (HUI) grants the company an exclusive, non-transferable licence for the application of the technology, which recycles plastic and waste into valuable clean energy products, across Poland, Greece and Hungary,” read the note today. Powerhouse has already received €125,000. Under the agreement, HUI will pay Powerhouse a further €325,000 this year and €300,000 next year. “HUI will use its local networks and relationships in the countries licensed to it to help secure project approvals, finance and technical expertise to facilitate the deployment of DMG technology,” said Aleksandra Binkowska, chief executive of U.K.-based HUI. The technology converts plastic, end-of-life tires and other waste streams into syngas. According to the company, the process can generate up to 2 tons of road-fuel quality hydrogen and more than 58 MWh of exportable electricity per day.

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