Energy storage from green hydrogen would be an option for the energy crisis. Photo: Shutterstock
Professor Kevin Kendall stops at the only green hydrogen filling station in Birmingham, Britain’s second largest city, and fills his car with clean gas.
Green hydrogen is in the spotlight as governments seek to reduce carbon emissions in times of high temperatures and to preserve energy supplies affected by the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a major oil and gas producer.
But the “hydrogen economy” has not yet fully entered, waiting to be adopted highly polluting sectors such as steel and aeronautics.
For Kendall, being one of the first to adopt green hydrogen means she doesn’t have to wait in line to load her vehicle.
“There is very little green hydrogen being produced in the UK right now,” the chemical engineering professor at AFP told AFP. “Now it must go on.”
A train of hydrogen fuel cells. Photo: Shutterstock
In Birmingham, central England, fueling Kendall’s Toyota Mirai with green hydrogen costs around £ 50 ($ 61), half that of a similar diesel car after the war in Ukraine has sent fuel prices skyrocketing. fossils.
Despite the price advantage, the UK only has a dozen hydrogen filling stations.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element on earthbut it is trapped in water and hydrocarbons like natural gas, which makes it “difficult to produce,” according to Michaela Kendall, Kevin’s daughter.
Together they founded Adelan, a small company that makes fuel cells similar to the metal-enclosed devices used to power your car.
Adelan is the oldest fuel cell manufacturer in the UK and also works with liquefied petroleum gas. The company also offers hydrogen car rental.
“Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the green hydrogen economy has become more interesting,” Minh Khoi Le, head of hydrogen research at Rystad Energy, told AFP.
“Added to many incentives in the second half of 2022 globally, green hydrogen appears to satisfy the energy system trilemma: energy security, access and sustainability,” he added.
Fuel prices have risen around the world since the start of the war in Ukraine. Photo: AP
consequences of the war
As a result of the war, the European Union (EU) seeks to increase its gas reserves by reducing consumption by 15% and increasing the stocks of green hydrogen obtained from water by electrolysis.
This contrasts with the more readily available blue hydrogen, which environmentalists reject as coming from natural gas through a process that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
At Adelan’s Birmingham workshop, a brick structure surrounded by houses, staff are testing so-called solid oxide fuel cells that replace diesel generators.
Michaela Kendall, president of the company, says she hopes that “the use of hydrogen will really increase, but it will take some time”.
“Hydrocarbons will continue to be used for the foreseeable future,” he predicted, “because the hydrogen economy hasn’t really evolved, it’s in an early stage.”
Investments and future projects
The UK government said a £ 9 billion investment is needed to “make hydrogen a cornerstone of the UK’s green future” as it aims to achieve carbon neutrality by mid-century.
in Birmingham the plan is to have 10 charging stations over the next few years with the arrival of 120 hydrogen buses in 2023. Other British cities, such as Aberdeen in Scotland, follow the same route.
However, “Los Angeles alone has been quite successful with around 9,000 hydrogen vehicles and 40 hydrogen stations,” notes Kevin. “This is what we would like for Birmingham”.
The Toyota, which looks like a normal vehicle, is powered by electricity generated from green hydrogen combined with oxygen in a fuel cell.
The only emission of the vehicle, with a travel capacity of 640 km, it is water vapor.
Adelan’s solid oxide fuel cells, so called because their electrolyte is ceramic, are an “electrical device” that generates energy for batteries.
But the lack of hydrogen infrastructure means drivers hoping for a greener alternative to gasoline or diesel will continue to purchase electric vehicles.
Despite the long recharging period of electric car batteries and the rise in the price of electricity this year, the British are rapidly demolishing their polluting vehicles before the UK bans the sale of new diesel and petrol cars in 2030.
At the same time, oil giant BP recently unveiled plans to produce green hydrogen in the UK.