THP-E174: Are Water Issues On The Horizon For Electrolytic Hydrogen? Also, Plug And Nikola Are Joining Forces On A Monster Deal.

December 22, 2022 • Paul Rodden • Season: 2022 • Episode: 174

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Welcome to The Hydrogen Podcast!

In episode 174, Nikola and Plug Power joined forces to drive the energy economy forward. And let’s talk about water and how much we’ll need for electrolytic hydrogen. I’ll go over all of this on today’s hydrogen podcast.

Thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy the podcast. Please feel free to email me at with any questions. Also, if you wouldn’t mind subscribing to my podcast using your preferred platform… I would greatly appreciate it.

Paul Rodden



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Nikola and Plug Power joined forces to drive the energy economy forward. And let’s talk about water and how much we’ll need for electrolytic hydrogen. I’ll go over 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 a press release on December 15, Nikola and Plug announced strategic collaboration to push hydrogen economy forward. Nikola Corporation a global leader in zero emissions, transportation and energy supply and infrastructure solutions and plug power a leading provider of turnkey hydrogen solutions for the Global Green hydrogen economy. Today, December 15, announced a strategic relationship focused on moving the hydrogen economy forward. The Nikola trade fuel cell electric vehicle is an industry leading hydrogen power to cab over for longer or continuous Metro regional applications and is expected to have a range of up to 500 miles plug will purchase up to 75 Nikola tre FCVs over the next three years, with the first trucks being delivered in 2023. Nikola trucks will help to deliver green hydrogen to customers in North America as part of plugs commitment to advancing the decarbonisation of energy.

The acquired FC EVs will be paired with plugs liquid hydrogen tankers, which are recognized as market leading trailers manufactured with unprecedented over the road payloads. Nicolas recently announced hydrogen hub project which is located in the city of Buckeye, Arizona is currently going through a permitting and rezoning process. With the procurement of long lead equipment also underway. Plug has been selected to provide its fully integrated liquefaction system for the project, which will be engineered to produce 30 metric tons per day, and its first phase scaling up to 150 metric tons per day. The low carbon hydrogen supply from the hub will further support the deployment of the Nikola tre FCV program and Nikola’s hydrogen energy business. The companies have also executed a 125 metric tons per day green hydrogen supply agreement.

This innovative green hydrogen supply and offtake partnership is expected to provide Nikola with a minimum of 100 metric tons per day of hydrogen, with the option to increase volume over time, and will allow Nikola to source hydrogen from multiple locations across the country as plug continues to bring on new supply facilities. In a quote from Nikola President Carey Mendes, Nikola and Plug share a common vision for sustainable efficient energy solutions, which supports their commitment to decarbonize the transportation industry. He says this strategic relationship will help underpin Nikolas ambitious growth plans to expand the hydrogen energy business and to support the adoption of Nikolas zero emission class eight trucks.

And an a quote from Sanjay Shrestha, CSO and General Manager of Energy Solutions for Plug. Today’s announcement demonstrates plugs leadership in the green hydrogen economy and its ability to make the adoption of hydrogen as easy as possible by aligning with industry pioneers such as Nikola. He says they’re vertically integrated solutions, which are designed to fit individual customer needs include hydrogen production equipment, or the delivery of hydrogen fuel, whichever is preferred. He says they look forward to their strategic relationship with Nikola as they advanced the hydrogen economy together. The Nikola tre battery electric vehicle with range of up to 330 miles started serial production in March of this year and is available for immediate delivery.

Okay, so a great collaboration that’s been announced between plug and Nikola. And this really is one of those partnerships that’s going to be critical and advancing the hydrogen economy and infrastructure within the United States. Now for starters, this is a great symbiotic relationship that both of these companies I think will benefit greatly from. But this also shows that Nikola is really getting itself out of the bad situation that they were in. And if they can continue to make deals like this, I can really perceive them becoming the front runner and class eight heavy duty fuel cell EV trucking, not to be sure there’s going to be a lot of competition. But if they can launch that first before the other big players like Volvo and Daimler come over to the states, they could take a gigantic lead in that space.

Next, in an article from the Lukas Coch writes for Australia to lead the way on green hydrogen. First, we must find enough water. The author writes, Australia is well positioned to be a global leader in green hydrogen production. Green hydrogen is produced using a renewable power source, and as a substitute for hydrocarbons, it will help to meet growing renewable energy needs. However, high quality water is needed to produce hydrogen. Supplies of high quality water must also be secured into the future to support their agriculture, industries, cities, towns and communities. Climate change and population growth will increase pressures on the supplies. community discussion is needed to identify where the water to produce hydrogen will come from. We need to ensure this developing industry does not disadvantage other water users as they discuss in their white paper, which we will put in the link below.

The author continues by saying green hydrogen is likely to partially replace petrol and diesel for larger vehicles such as trucks and heavy machinery. As Australia moves to a carbon neutral economy. It has the advantage of being a fuel suitable for sectors such as mining and transport that are struggling to reduce emissions. The green hydrogen market is expected to grow rapidly. hydrogen energy outputs in Australia are estimated to exceed 100 megawatts by 2025. More than 90 projects representing 250 billion Australian dollars and investments are planned. Most demand for hydrogen this decade is likely to be domestic for chemical production, industrial processes and other uses. In the longer term major export demand is expected from the Asia Pacific. By 2040. Australia’s green hydrogen production cost is predicted to be the equal lowest in the world. Now electrolysis, which splits water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen will be the main method of producing this green hydrogen. So just how much water are we talking about? The amount of water needed to generate green hydrogen varies. The exact amount of water required depends on the technology used to produce hydrogen, the water quality and any need for cooling or water purification. On average, a liter of water can produce enough hydrogen to deliver about 10 mega joules of energy. That’s enough to push a 50 ton truck about 15 meters.

The previous Australian Government predicted the hydrogen industry could be worth 50 billion Australian dollars a year by 2050. at that scale, it would need about 225 billion litres of water. While that’s roughly as much as residents of a city like Perth use in a year, it’s only about 3% of the water used for agriculture in Australia, and 2020 and 2021. There are many possible sources of water, surface water, groundwater and recycled water are all available inland and coastal areas have unlimited seawater, which can be desalinated for hydrogen production. But there are trade offs whenever we allocate a water resource. In many areas. The available freshwater is fully allocated to towns, cities, agriculture, industry and the environment. The pressure on water supplies will increase as populations grow, and much of Australia becomes hotter and drier under climate change. Further, most water would have to be treated to be suitable for hydrogen production. Treatment can be expensive and uses additional energy as does desalination, and pumping water long distances. And what about the failure to plan for water use and its cost. Current Issues in the gas industry provide a cautionary tale, high gas prices in eastern Australia can be deemed the result of failure to consider impacts on domestic customers of developing a gas export industry. Western Australia In contrast, reserved enough gas for domestic users.

As a result its prices are among the lowest in the OECD. A similar failure may arise if corporations buy high quality water for hydrogen generation, diminishing supplies for agriculture, domestic or environmental use. North Africa exports substantial amounts of green hydrogen to Europe, but this is controversial because of the region’s water shortages. In Australia. competition for water will intensify due to climate change and ongoing demands from agriculture 72% of national water consumption in 2020 and 2021, industry mining household and the environment. Using potable water to produce hydrogen may be at odds with community expectations. And so care must be taken to ensure industry expansion does not adversely affect other users. This will be particularly difficult in Australia because rainfall is highly variable by the world standards, not news to those who have lived through recent years of drought than flooding rains and So what are the likely solutions?

The key challenge is to produce hydrogen in large quantities in a way that’s cost effective and sustainable. This can be achieved by planning effectively for industry growth. While they’re paper that we will post again below identifies public policy and industry related issues posed by this growth. The author continues by saying, We must identify regions likely to support hydrogen production and storage, find nearby sources of water and calculate volumes needed, then we must develop plans to support existing water users while providing a viable solution for the green hydrogen industry. alternative sources such as recycled water or treated groundwater are likely to be part of that solution. Harvesting water from industrial and urban wastewater could be a game changer. It would require moderate treatment but have fewer effects on other water users. He says we will learn a lot from pilot programs such as the new energy service station in Greenlawn, which will create hydrogen from 100% recycled water.

In planning to overcome the challenges we’ll need to develop relevant data information and analysis to get the settings just right. It is possible to create a vibrant, sustainable and profitable green hydrogen industry to support decarbonisation of Australian and global economies. But it won’t happen by accident. Careful planning is essential. And communities must be involved in deciding where water will come from, and how it can be accessed. Okay, so this article really resonated with me because some of you know, I was born and raised in the deserts of the southwestern United States. And so water, it was our most precious commodity. And it’s also something I’ve talked about on the show several times, and that is electrolytic Hydrogen needs to have good clean water sources. So a lot of these plans of developing electrolytic hydrogen in deserts doesn’t seem all that feasible unless you have a very good water source nearby. But what this could also mean is a drastic ramp up and desalinization technology to really start driving down the costs of taking that salt out of seawater.

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 podcasts, Spotify, Google, YouTube, whatever it is, there’ll be a tremendous help to the show. And as always, if you ever have any feedback, you’re welcome to email me directly at 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 Thanks for listening. I very much appreciate it. Have a great day.