July 11, 2022 • Paul Rodden • Season: 2022 • Episode: 129
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In episode 129, Shell announces a huge hydrogen project in Europe. And a new startup tries to unlock a cheaper way to move hydrogen. All of this on today’s hydrogen podcast.
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Shell announces a huge hydrogen project in Europe. And a new startup tries to unlock a cheaper way to move hydrogen. All of 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 on July 6, Shell to start building Europe’s largest renewable hydrogen plant. The 200 megawatt electrolyzer will be constructed on the Tweede Maasvlakte in the Port of Rotterdam and will produce up to 60,000 kilograms of renewable hydrogen per day. The renewable power for the electrolyzer will come from the offshore wind farm Hollandse Kust, which is partially owned by Shell, the renewable hydrogen produced will supply the shell energy and chemicals Park Rotterdam, by way of the high transport pipeline, where we’ll replace some of the gray hydrogen usage in the refinery. This will partially decarbonize the facility’s production of renewable products like petrol and diesel and jet fuel, as heavy duty trucks are coming to market and refueling networks grow. Renewable hydrogen supply can also be directed toward these to help in decarbonizing Commercial Road Transport. In a quote from Anna Mascolo, Executive Vice President of emerging energy solutions at Shell Holland hydrogen one demonstrates how new energy solutions can work together to meet society’s need for cleaner energy.
It’s also another example of Shell’s own efforts and commitment to become a net zero emissions business by 2050. She continues by saying renewable hydrogen will play a pivotal role in the energy system of the future and this project is an important step in helping hydrogen fulfill that potential. Now Shell’s ambition is to help build a global hydrogen economy by developing opportunities and their production, storage, transport and delivery of hydrogen to end customers. Holland hydrogen one’s approval marks an important milestone on that journey, not only for the Netherlands, as a leader in the hydrogen economy, but also for Shell globally. Okay, so not a lengthy press release from Shell but a very important one. And so why is it so important? Well, this plant is going to be 10 times bigger than the next biggest plant in Europe. And so with this plant starting up in 2025, and that hydrogen to be immediately used at the refineries in Rotterdam, we should begin to see some pretty sharp declines of co2 emissions in that area.
Now whether or not shell which stated in this press release that they’re looking to be carbon neutral by 2050. Projects like this and other low carbon ventures they have in Germany and China could help them push toward that goal. Next, in an article from bloomberg.com, Akshat Rathi writes, Bill Gates led fund back startup with cheaper way to move hydrogen. The author writes that a hydrogen molecule is tiny, so tiny in fact that trying to store it and transport it via existing tanks and pipelines can end up causing cracks and steel. If hydrogen has become a clean fuel of the future, urgent technological solutions are needed to keep it in place, and move it at will enter H2SITE a Spanish startup that promises to do just that. It’s secured 12 and a half million euros from investments from Bill Gates led Breakthrough Energy ventures, French utility energy SA and Norwegian oil giant Equinor while their existing methods to store and transport hydrogen that can be prohibitively expensive, especially compared to moving around its carbonaceous cousin natural gas. H2SITE says that transporting hydrogen could cost as much as three times the cost of hydrogen production. The startup offers to provide that service at a fraction of the cost, if it’s technology can scale. Now just to pull back away from the article here for a second, and highlight something that the author talks about, which is the ability for these new hydrogen technologies to be able to scale. Now over the last year, there have been dozens of new technologies being announced, whether it’s transportation or the manufacturing of hydrogen, or the utilization of hydrogen.
And with so many of them looking promising right now at the small stage, it’s going to be very important to see how many of these new technologies will be able to scale up. The author continues by saying there are two modes in which H2SITEs technology works. First is to use existing natural gas pipelines to move hydrogen from where it’s produced to where it’s consumed. These pipes can carry about 30% Hydrogen when mixed with natural gas. And again just to pull away here for a second. That’s a very important number to focus on that most articles and publications will only talk about a five to 10% Hydrogen blend. This one is talking about 30%. And I’m curious where the author’s getting that number. Now, it’s important to note, I don’t think the number is wrong, per se, but it would be good to know the source of that information. But he continues that the idea is that diluted hydrogen will be less corrosive on existing steel infrastructure. Freshly produced hydrogen is injected into a pipeline containing natural gas close to where the hydrogen is made and then recovering using H2SITEs filter where it needs to be consumed.
According to Sebastien Arbola executive vice president at Engie he says it’s like being able to separate a great Bordeaux wine after it’s mixed with a common wine no no see, even the world can filter out hydrogen or separate a Bordeaux from supermarket wine. So H2SITE makes use of some clever chemistry that exploits hydrogen liking for certain metals such as palladium. Under the right conditions of heat and pressure. A hydrogen atom on the surface of a palladium alloy can split apart and reform when the temperature and pressure are lower. That means H2SITE can filter hydrogen at 99.9% Purity from a pipe carrying between five and 30% hydrogen with the rest being natural gas. And that’s not all. If not pipes, hydrogen is likely to be moved around in ships, not as itself but trapped within ammonia or methanol.
That’s because ammonia can be easily turned into a liquid and methanol is already a liquid. And there are currently projects being developed in countries like Australia that have plenty of space for solar and wind farms, where hydrogen is produced converted to ammonia moved on ships, and then hydrogen is recovered by undoing the chemical reaction. Now obviously the process of converting hydrogen to ammonia and back is highly energy intensive. bringing down the cost of ammonia cracking will be key to making large investments to scale up hydrogen production for exports. This according to Anja-Isabel Dotzenrath, Executive Vice President of gas and low carbon energy at BP. She continues by saying what we need to address is the cost of ammonia cracking H2SITE second mode of operation it causes it to become a cracker for ammonia or methanol. All that needs to be done. According to Andrés Galnares is H2SITE CEO is to increase the number of palladium membranes and tweak the temperature and pressure at which the reactor is run. According to Arbola it’s in its early days. The startup has reactors that can be used to filter out 40 kilograms of hydrogen per day, whereas its commercial units will be able to handle 200 kilograms and 500 kilograms, respectively. Once scaled up Galnares said that the cost of filtering the clean burning fuel will cost about 80 cents per kilogram of hydrogen. The startup already has three sites where the technology will be tested. In the UK, ammonia made with renewable hydrogen will be converted to hydrogen and Spain a consortium of energy companies and research centers will test the generation injection and transportation of hydrogen with H2SITE providing reactors for filtering.
And in France, H2SITEs reactors will generate hydrogen for vehicles. Engie’s, our bullet is clear in that building out hydrogen infrastructure or repurposing existing pipelines is important to ensure that hydrogen doesn’t leak. That’s because while hydrogen isn’t a greenhouse gas, it can extend the life of existing potent warming gases like methane, or cause the production of another greenhouse gas ozone. When natural gas prices at such highs clean energy research group Bloomberg, Nef finds that green hydrogen is now cheaper than natural gas in eight European countries. That means you can expect more startups with technologies that work to make hydrogen economy a reality. Okay, so some great new technology that’s been announced that could make transporting hydrogen quite a bit more economic. But really, the two things that I’m focusing in on this article are one, the fact that they’re looking intentionally to scale their technology, which is I mentioned earlier, which is critical when you have potential investors looking to break into the hydrogen economy. The second part is that they’re not focusing in on one particular application of their technology. And I think that’s a very, very smart play for them to do right now.
And I say that because there are so many avenues right now. And technologies being developed to identify the best way to transport hydrogen. And so to have this technology available, regardless of whatever transportation method a client uses, is extremely valuable.
All right, that’s it for me, everyone. If you have a second, I would really appreciate it. If you could leave a good review on whatever platform it is that you listen to apple pie podcasts, Spotify, Google, whatever it is, that would be a tremendous help to the show. And as always, if you have any feedback, you’re welcome to email me directly at email@example.com. And as always, take care. Stay safe.
I’ll talk to you later. Hey, this is Paul. I hope you liked this podcast. If you did and 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 www.thehydrogenpodcast.com. Thanks for listening. I very much appreciate it. Have a great day.