The Hydrogen Stream: Three more ports want to become hydrogen hubs

Antwerp, and Zeebrugge, in Belgium, and Newcastle in Australia all want to speed up green hydrogen development.

November 9, 2021

After the recent news about a collaboration between Valencia and Hamburg, the focus on ports has continued this week. Two Belgian sites – Antwerp and Zeebrugge – have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Chilean government at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, to speed up green hydrogen flows between South America and Western Europe. “This cooperation will remove the last barriers and gaps in the run-up to the effective start-up of green production, the establishment of the logistics chain between the continents, and the logistics in the Belgian seaports and their hinterland,” the Port of Antwerp wrote last week. The Belgian facilities are convinced the future Western European energy system will have to focus on solar and wind power, plus imported renewable hydrogen. Chile aims to produce the world’s cheapest green hydrogen by 2030 and wants to be among the top three exporters by 2040. The renewable hydrogen generated in Chile in the foreseeable future will primarily be used for domestic purposes.

The Australian government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), will deliver an extra AU$1.5 million (US$1.11 million) to support Macquarie Group’s Green Investment Group, the Port of Newcastle, and project partners, to conduct an AU$3 million study on the potential of a hub for the energy storage medium at Newcastle, the Ministry for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction wrote yesterday. The study will focus on the best location at the port for the hydrogen infrastructure. “Newcastle is the biggest port on the east coast, with 50% of its capacity available for future industry development, making it a great asset for the region to become one of the seven Clean Hydrogen Industrial Hubs my government is delivering,” said Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, adding Newcastle and the surrounding Hunter region will be a key part of the AU$1.2 billion (US$889 million) investment in Australia’s hydrogen industry.

The Hydro Havrand green hydrogen unit of Norwegian mining and metals company Hydro, and Shell New Energies Holding Europe have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the potential for joint projects producing hydrogen from renewable electricity. The ambition is to use hydrogen to help decarbonize the operations of Hydro and Anglo-Dutch energy company Shell, and to supply customers in heavy industry, maritime and road transport. Replacing natural gas with green hydrogen for heating purposes in aluminum production will contribute toward Hydro’s commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions 30% this decade, the company wrote today.

U.S. Democratic Party politicians have voted for the final passage of a US$1 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan, calling it a “largest-ever investment in America’s roads and bridges, water infrastructure, climate resilience projects, [and] internet access.” The bill was approved by the Senate in August. According to the White House, the legislation will enable a US$7.5 billion investment to build out a national network of EV chargers in the United States. The legislation will also focus on energy infrastructure and hydrogen. A majority of Republicans opposed the plan. Next week, Democrats are expected to support a second bill. “I also voted with a majority of my House colleagues to advance the [US]$1.75 trillion Build Back Better package, which would be our largest-ever investment in [combating] climate change and [reinforcing] our social safety net,” said Congressman Ed Case. “We are on course to pass this equally historic bill out of the House and send it to the Senate [on] the week of November 15, subject to Congressional Budget Office confirmation of the measure’s revenues and expenses.”

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Europe is still leading the way for investment in electrolysis technology but other regions are catching up, Oxford-based Aurora Energy Research wrote in its biannual Hydrogen Market Attractiveness Rating Report. “The vast majority of electrolyzer projects are still located in Europe, but the share has fallen from 85% to 57%,” Aurora wrote last week. “Germany, the Netherlands, and the U.K. remain the most attractive markets for investment in hydrogen in Europe, with France and Norway close behind, in joint fourth place,” added the business intelligence firm.

Early testing by the Queensland University of Technology, in Australia, has suggested Titan Hydrogen’s fuel cell enhancement technology delivers significantly higher voltages than regular fuel cells. “The early work by the Queensland University of Technology on the company’s high-performance, low temperature hydrogen fuel cell found that it produced significantly higher voltage compared with a standard polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell operating at the same current density,” read an article republished by the Melbourne-based company last week. “We are encouraged by these early-stage results and look forward to further validation of the novel approach we are following,” chairman David Vinson said.

Scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), in California, have found atomic disorder in certain boron-based hydrogen storage systems can potentially improve the rate of hydrogen uptake, the the federal research facility wrote on Thursday. “Metal boride surfaces and their single-layer variants – known as borophenes – are generally thought to feature a regular arrangement of atoms at low to moderate temperatures,” said the lab on its website. “The LLNL team proved that, in many cases, these atoms actually disorder dynamically: a surprising phenomenon in contrast to conventional understanding of how most solid-state surfaces behave. The surface disorder means each atomic site has different local properties.” According to the team’s research, some of these sites can make dissociation of hydrogen molecules easier, which is expected to accelerate activation of the material during hydrogen storage. The work is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office.

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