THP-E113: Shining The Hydrogen Light On The UK’s Energy Crisis And NREL Just Said Solar Thermal Chemical Hydrogen. Find Out Why That Is Remarkable

May 09, 2022 • Paul Rodden • Season: 2022 • Episode: 113

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Welcome to The Hydrogen Podcast!

In episode 113, Energy suppliers in the UK want hydrogen to replace natural gas. And a new technology from NREL could be the game changer we’ve all been waiting for to make cheap green hydrogen. All this on today’s hydrogen podcast.

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Paul Rodden



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Energy suppliers in the UK want hydrogen to replace natural gas. And a new technology from NREL could be the game changer we’ve all been waiting for to make cheap green hydrogen. All this on today’s hydrogen podcast.

So the big questions in the energy industry today are, how is hydrogen the primary driving force behind the evolution of energy? Where is capital being deployed for hydrogen projects globally? And where are the best investment opportunities for early adopters who recognize the importance of hydrogen? I will address the critical issues and give you the information you need to deploy capital. Those are the questions that will unlock the potential of hydrogen and this podcast will give you the answers. My name is Paul Rodden and welcome to the hydrogen podcast.

In an article from Herald, Martin Williams writes energy suppliers make government call for more hydrogen to replace natural gas energy UK the industry trade association said the upcoming Queen’s speech should be used to make the biggest changes to the UK energy laws for a decade and set the foundations for the next decade to deliver a low carbon power system by 2035. And a green economy by 2050. It comes to the Prime Minister urged the bosses of BP and Shell to keep investing in wind farms and hydrogen to drive down bills. The UK government believes a world leading hydrogen economy would support over 9000 UK jobs and unlock 4 billion pounds investment by 2030. Energy prices have rocketed in the last year and last month the energy price cap was increased by 54% for the average household. Earlier this week, it emerged the Grangemouth refinery owner ENEOS was behind a new 30 million pound project launched in Scotland to find out if hydrogen can be a clean alternative to natural gas for homes and businesses.

It is working with the business that run Scotland’s natural gas networks SGN to try and bring hydrogen distribution networks a step closer to reality in the UK. Hydrogen is being championed as a fuel for the future and experts believe it can help tackle the biggest root cause of climate change air pollution. The energy network Association ENA the industry body representing energy network operators in the UK, says that hydrogen could heat homes around the country from next year with all five of Britain’s gas grid companies preparing to provide the gas. The Herald revealed that 1000s faced soaring mortgage payments after interest rates were hiked to the highest level for 13 years on Thursday, further fueling a cost of living crisis. That analysis has revealed will leave the average Scots family over 2100 pounds a year worse off.

A New Economics Foundation NEF analysis has calculated that 1.7 million people in Scotland will not be able to afford the cost of living rise this year, and that even middle income families will now suffer. Bills are likely to rise even further in October when the price cap is next revisited. Energy UK says that the Queen’s speech should be the platform for a new energy bill in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the knock on impact that has had on global increases in energy prices. They say that it would be used to enable innovation in netzero technologies by delivering new business models hydrogen production and storage as well as carbon capture. They say there should be a strengthening of regulations to improve energy efficiency and building across the country, with a group advocating more smart meters low carbon heating alternatives and charging points for electric cars. It wants reforms that will be supporting the delivery of the government’s targets for 50 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2050. And increased use of solar and battery storage. It suggests setting a requirement for off gas grid properties to move to low carbon heating technology at the end of the life of their existing heating source, addressing what is called the most polluting properties and stimulating the market for low carbon heat.

And it wants the energy regulator, OFGEM to introduce fit and proper persons reforms to ensure new energy suppliers are run properly. Okay, so an interesting article from the Herald in Scotland, that really helps shine some light to those of us outside of the UK on the energy problems that they’re currently facing. Now, while I can appreciate the government wanting to invest heavily in renewable energy, that is not a short term solution to the crisis that they’re facing. There is an abundance of natural gas in the area. And there are several clean ways of processing hydrogen with that natural gas with no co2 emissions, that can be a change for their energy crisis right now. So hopefully, they look at properly investing in both solutions to solve their short term energy problems, as well as investing in enough tech in the future to be able to continue to make that clean transition from natural gas to renewables. And also I believe the rest of the world should pay close attention to what’s happening in the UK right now. And really take notes on what to do and what not to do, as each individual country and region go through their own respective energy transitions. Next in a press release from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, NREL scientists advanced renewable hydrogen production method perovskite materials may hold the potential to play an important role in a process to produce hydrogen in a renewable manner. According to an analysis from scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory or enroll, hydrogen has emerged as an important carrier to store energy generated by renewable resources.

As a substitute for hydrocarbons used for transportation and the production method of ammonia and for other industrial applications. Key to the successful use of hydrogen as a fuel is being able to meet Department of Energy’s hydrogen energy Earth shot recently announced goal to cut the cost of clean hydrogen by 80% to $1 per kilogram in a decade. The enroll scientists analyzed an emerging water splitting technology called solar thermal chemical hydrogen or STCH production, which can be potentially more energy efficient than producing hydrogen via the commonly used electrolysis method. Electrolysis needs electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. STCH relies on a two step chemical process in which metal oxides are exposed to temperatures greater than 1400 degrees Celsius and then re oxidized with steam at a lower temperature to produce hydrogen. According to Zhiwen Ma, a senior engineer at NREL and lead author of a paper system and techno economic analysis of solar thermal chemical hydrogen production says it’s certainly a very challenging field, and it has a lot of research questions still unanswered, mainly on materials perspective. The research paper complements ongoing materials discovery research by looking at the system level design and technical economic analysis for integrating possible materials into a solar fuel platform and supporting the Department of Energy’s hydrogen program.

The material discovery in the hydrogen program involves machine learning defect calculations and experimental work to develop new Perovskite materials, the researchers need to identify Perovskite capable of handling the high temperatures required while hitting performance targets. This work shows part of a portfolio of techno economic analysis focused on hydrogen production pathways, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Electrolysis for example, is commercially available, and the electricity required can come from photovoltaics. The PV cells used however, only capture a section of the solar spectrum, STCH uses the entire spectrum. The concentrated solar thermal power enables STCH to create the chemical reaction. active research to identify the best materials for the STCH process is critical to the success of this method for hydrogen production. This According to the scientists in a quote from Genevieve Saur, one of the co authors on the paper, the material has not necessarily been found. But this analysis is to provide some boundaries for where we think the costs will be if materials meet some of the targets and expectations that the research community envisions. Okay, so some promising new technology coming out of the US and the NREL program. Now there are obviously still a lot of questions that need to be answered before we can even begin to talk about scalability and costs.

But it’s still important when we talk about an energy transition to focus on the future and where expected cost savings can come from. These perovskite materials do look like they hold quite a bit of potential. And as more reports like this come out, I would expect other research laboratories around the world to start investing in some of this research also.

Alright, that’s it for me, everyone. If you have a second, I would really appreciate it. If you can leave a good review on whatever platform it is that you listen to Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google, whatever it is, that would be a tremendous help to the show. And as always, if you ever have any feedback, you’re welcome to email me directly at Until next time, take care. Stay safe. I’ll talk to you later.

Hey, this is Paul. I hope you liked this podcast. If you didn’t want to hear more. I’d appreciate it if you would either subscribe to this channel on YouTube, or connect with your favorite platform through my website at Thanks for listening to very much appreciate it. Have a great day.