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Tuesday November 17, 2020

NEOM and Green Hydrogen, all you need to know

$ 500 billion is the amount that Saudi Arabia has allocated to build a city similar to the one we see in science fiction movies, and it will be called “Neom” .. It is planned that the city will be built on the edge of the Saudi desert next to the Red Sea, and its one million people will travel using flying taxis. And they will depend on smart robots to help them in all their household chores .. As for the energy product that NEOM will depend on and sell to the world, it is not oil, but: green hydrogen.

Green hydrogen and the future city of NEOM

According to what was reported in the network BBC British, Saudi Arabia is betting on the production of a different fuel, which is green hydrogen, free of carbon and made from water, using electric energy from renewable sources to separate hydrogen molecules from oxygen molecules.

This summer, a huge US gas company, Air Products & Chemicals, announced that it was partnering with NEOM to build a green hydrogen plant in Saudi Arabia.

Electricity generated from wind and solar projects spanning the vast desert will be the main supply for the plant.

The company claims NEOM will be the largest green hydrogen project in the world, and plans to build more Saudi power plants.

What are the properties of green hydrogen?

“Green hydrogen is very promising,” says Rachel Fakhry, an energy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York. Experts like Fakhry say that wind and solar energy can provide electricity to light homes and run electric cars, but green hydrogen can be an ideal source of energy in industries that consume large quantities of them, such as concrete and steel manufacturing, and parts of the transportation sector that are difficult to provide electricity.

“Sectors such as aviation, shipping, manufacturing, and long-distance trucking are difficult to provide with energy from clean sources. But green hydrogen can provide them with the clean energy they need,” Fakhry said.

Why haven’t we heard of green fuel until today?

Green hydrogen has been praised for decades as a clean source of energy, but the technology has never taken off on a large scale, which is why it is according to skeptics.

They argue that the widespread adoption of green fuel technology faces huge hurdles, most notably that hydrogen fuel needs renewable energy to be “green”.

This will require a massive expansion in power generation from renewable sources to provide power to electrolysis plants that separate water into hydrogen and oxygen. But at present, the most common way to produce hydrogen remains “natural gas reforming,” and as the name indicates, this requires the introduction of fossil fuels in the form of natural gas, which reacts with steam to produce hydrogen, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.

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And because carbon dioxide is emitted from the manufacture of hydrogen from methane, the process is not environmentally friendly, and the hydrogen manufactured in this way is known as “gray hydrogen”.

Regardless of the method of production, hydrogen is difficult to store and transport without a pipeline.

Currently, in some places, such as the United States, hydrogen fuel is much more expensive than other fuels such as natural gas.

iStock Hydrogen Green

Disadvantages of green hydrogen

This fuel has its advantages, says Michael Lebrick, an analyst with Bloomberg’s Energy Finance Research Service in the United Kingdom and a skeptic of green hydrogen, but “the list of disadvantages it shows is just as amazing”.

“Hydrogen does not exist separately in nature, so we need energy to separate it,” Liebrick wrote in the first of two articles he wrote for Bloomberg. To store it requires pressure at 700 times atmospheric pressure, and cooled to -253 degrees Celsius, and a unit of it holds a quarter of the energy of natural gas. Hydrogen can cause metal brittleness, escape from the smallest cracks and gaps, and it is extremely fast to explode. “

And some green hydrogen projects learn from their mistakes. An energy project in Australia recently obtained clearance from environmental regulators for a scheme to transport hydrogen pipelines from a site near Bulbara, in western Australia, to Singapore.

The scheme includes 1,600 wind turbines and 30 square miles of solar panels to power a 23-gigawatt electrolysis plant to make green hydrogen.

But the facility, known as the Asian Renewable Energy Center, changed its plan after realizing the difficulties of liquefying hydrogen and transporting it over long distances, according to ABC News.

The facility now plans to export ammonia, which is a more stable gas.

Liebrick writes that, despite these problems, green hydrogen “continues to dominate the imaginations of the technology optimists”.

The future for green hydrogen is still murky

Ben Gallagher, an energy analyst at Wood McKenzie who studies green hydrogen, said the fuel is so new that the future is still hazy.

“Nobody has an idea what is going on here,” Gallagher says. “It is hard to see now green hydrogen as the new oil. But it can be an important part of the overall fuel mix.”

But for its supporters, green hydrogen is a tempting idea that cannot be ignored.

When manufactured using renewable energy, it produces no carbon dioxide emissions.

Moreover, the use of renewable energy in making fuels can help solve the problem of irregularity in energy production which is one of the biggest problems of solar and wind energy, as well as efficient storage.

And when the demand for renewable energy decreases in the spring and autumn, the excess electrical energy can be used to supply the electrolysis processes with the energy needed to separate hydrogen and oxygen molecules, and then hydrogen can be stored or pumped through the tubes.

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Race around the world on green hydrogen

However, green hydrogen is seen in many countries of the world as the next paradigm shift in the energy field.

While the United States is not focused on this new fuel, there is a race around the world for green hydrogen, and many companies, investors, governments and environmentalists believe that green hydrogen is one of the energy sources that may help end the age of fossil fuels and slow the path towards global warming.

And Europe, whose economy is faltering due to high energy prices and its dependence to a large extent on Russian natural gas, is embracing green hydrogen by financing the construction of electrolysis stations and the infrastructure needed for hydrogen projects.

Germany has allocated the largest share of the sums for stimulating the clean energy sector to green hydrogen.

The European Commission commented on the hydrogen strategy, saying: “It’s the missing part of the puzzle of the completely decarbonized economy.”

Stations are under construction and others already built

Although the United States has been late to keep up with this new technology due to the availability of much cheaper sources such as natural gas, many new projects are underway, including a green hydrogen plant in Utah that will replace two old coal-fired power plants, and will produce electricity for Southern California and Nevada, and will be used. Within Utah as well.

In Japan, a new green hydrogen plant, one of the largest in the world, has opened near Fukushima, a site that is symbolic given the site’s proximity to the nuclear disaster in 2011.

The plant will be used to fill fuel cells in vehicles and in fixed locations.

As Europe strengthens its drive towards decarbonization, the continent is investing in green hydrogen.

The European Union recently released a draft strategy to expand green hydrogen, but it has yet to formally adopt it.

But the union’s clean energy plan, in which it intends to invest up to 470 billion euros ($ 550 billion) in fuels, includes financing new plants for the electrolysis of green hydrogen, as well as transport and storage technology.

“The widespread deployment of clean hydrogen at a rapid rate is extremely important to the European Union in order to fulfill our high climate ambitions,” the European Commission wrote.

Green hydrogen in the Middle East

The Middle East, which currently has the cheapest wind and solar energy prices, is tending to be a major player in green hydrogen.

“Renewable energy in Saudi Arabia is very low-cost,” said Thomas Cook Blank, leader of the Advanced Technology Program at the Rocky Mountain Institute. “The sun definitely shines every day, and the winds definitely blow every night. It’s hard to beat.”

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The goal: to fly without emissions

Bloomberg’s Energy Finance Research Service estimates that the energy needed to generate enough green hydrogen to meet a quarter of the world’s needs will require more electricity than the world currently produces from all sources, and an investment of $ 11 trillion in production and storage.

That is why the focus is now on 15% of the economy to meet needs that wind and solar power do not easily meet, such as heavy manufacturing, long-distance trucking, and fuel for container ships and aircraft.

The energy density of green hydrogen is three times that of jet fuel, making it a promising zero-emissions technology for aircraft fueling.

But Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturer, issued a statement recently saying that many of the major problems need to be overcome, and this includes safely storing hydrogen on airplanes, providing hydrogen infrastructure at airports, and cutting the currently high costs.

“Cross-industry and cost-competitive partnerships in the green hydrogen sector will be essential to achieving zero-carbon flying on the ground,” says Glenn Lewellin, Airbus’ vice president for zero-emissions aircraft. He is optimistic that this could happen, and believes that hydrogen-fueled airplanes could fly by 2035.

On land, green hydrogen is considered by some to be an alternative to the fuel of some land vehicles.

In the United Kingdom, the demand for hydrogen-fueled double decker trains, trucks and buses is increasing.

In California, the state passed a low-carbon fuel standard in 2009 to encourage electric and hydrogen vehicles.

And in October, a number of officials in the energy and heavy vehicle sector formed the Hydrogen Federation of Western states to push for accelerated development of hydrogen fuel cell technology and infrastructure to replace trucks, buses, cars and aircraft powered by diesel fuel.

“Hydrogen fuel cells will nurture the future of zero-emission transportation in these heavy-duty sectors that are difficult to supply with electricity. This fact is beyond doubt, and this new consortium is there to ensure that government and industry can cooperate in a highly efficient way to accelerate the This is the next revolution. “

There are plans for smaller, hydrogen systems to power homes. In Australia, the New University of South Wales, in partnership with the global engineering firm GHD, has created a home system called LAVO, which uses solar energy to generate and store green hydrogen, and is converted into electricity when needed.

These developments in green hydrogen, from Japan to the United States to the European Union, are “really good news,” according to Planck of the Rocky Mountain Institute. “Green hydrogen has a high potential that enables it to solve many of the problems that plague us, because the problem of climate change seems to have no solution in sight.”

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