May 01, 2023 • Paul Rodden • Season: 2023 • Episode: 210
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In episode 210, An article in wired.com reminds us to keep focusing on ammonia production. I'll go through the article and give my thoughts on today's hydrogen podcast.
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An article in wired.com reminds us to keep focusing on ammonia production. I'll go through the article and give my thoughts 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.
And an article in wired.com Bianca Nogrady writes forget cars green hydrogen will supercharge crops. In the dry red dust of Western Australia's vast Pilbara region, something green is growing. In October of 2022. construction began on a massive solar photovoltaic and battery installation around 40 soccer fields in size that will soon power a 10 megawatt electrolyzer. A machine that uses electricity to convert water into hydrogen. But that hydrogen isn't going to fuel cars or trucks or buses. It's going to grow crops. The Yuri Project a joint venture between global fertilizer giant Yara utilities company Engie and investment and trading company Mitsui & Co. is producing green hydrogen that's combined with nitrogen to create ammonia for fertilizer production. Given the long running conversation about hydrogen fueled vehicles, fertilizer probably isn't the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about green hydrogen. But in the past few years, the discussion around the fuel has shifted and broadened.
As more industries see this zero carbon fuels potential to decarbonize carbon intensive industrial processes and sectors. The production of ammonia for fertilizer contributes to around point .8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, the industry is a major consumer of hydrogen, which is produced from natural gas or coal and generates significant carbon emissions. Green hydrogen, on the other hand, uses electricity from renewable sources to split water into hydrogen and oxygen using a process called electrolysis, which means the process generates zero carbon emissions. That is an exciting prospect for Yara, which is the largest ammonia producer in the world. And a quote from Leigh Holder Business Development Director for Yara clean ammonia in Australia said the concept of green ammonia was first slated to us probably back in 2014. He says it was viewed with a lot of skepticism back then, and a lot of that had to do with the cost of renewables. Now the price of renewable energy from sources such as wind and solar has plummeted, bringing green hydrogen within economic reach for a huge range of potential applications.
Perhaps surprisingly, hydrogen fueled passenger transport is not top of the list this according to Fredrik Mowill, CEO of Hystar, a major manufacturer of proton exchange membrane electrolyzers for the production of green hydrogen. He says there's probably been a disproportionate amount of attention given to transportation within green hydrogen. He also says that large scale industrial applications like the YURI project are what will really drive demand he's also says a company like yours will need enormous amounts of green hydrogen. Another industry with a keen interest in green hydrogen is freight transport. In Australia, diesel fueled trucks take a major cut out of the carbon budget. But electric trucks aren't a viable solution, either on the long haul routes to get goods to and from remote areas or when shifting heavy loads, such as around mines.
And in a quote from Stephen Percy, a senior research fellow at the Victorian Hydrogen Hub at Swinburne University in Melbourne. He says if we can start decarbonizing that through hydrogen, that's a great application. hydrogen fuel cell electric trucks will soon be rumbling around Sun Metals zinc refinery near Townsville in Queensland in Australia's northeast fueled by green hydrogen generated by solar farm an electrolyzer operation next door. A 40 ton 500 horsepower hydrogen powered truck was also unveiled at the European Conference on energy transition in Geneva last year. But perhaps hydrogens greatest potential lies in its ability to store energy for rainy days. While hydrocarbons are stores of energy from prehistoric sunlight. Hydrogen can be used to store the solar energy of the previous 12 hours. Again, according to Mowill, you need green hydrogen to continue to increase the amount of renewable power. Once an electricity grid gets to a critical mass of renewable inputs from sources such as wind and solar. Something has to step in to stabilize and smooth out those peaks and troughs of supply and demand.
Again, according to Mowill, you You can't solve that with batteries, it's at a scale that wouldn't be practical. Hydrogen is a very good way of balancing out this. And unlike batteries, hydrogen can be efficiently transported, it can be compressed into a liquid hydrogen, which does require some energy or it can be converted into ammonia, which is already transported around the world and then crack back into hydrogen and nitrogen at its destination. countries like Japan and South Korea, which are home to energy intensive industries such as steel and the manufacturing of cars and ships, but lack the renewable resources to power them sustainably are eager to import hydrogen from countries with an excess of renewable energy such as Australia.
In a quote from Carlos trench, head of hydrogen projects at Engie Australia and New Zealand said, the idea is basically that you produce those hydrogen molecules or hydrogen direct derivatives in countries with abundant renewable resources, then you transport the molecules whether it's ammonia or any other derivative, and then you reconvert that molecule into green power at the destination, where a direct development of renewables is not feasible. Now, Japan has already declared its intention to be a world leader in the hydrogen economy. As part of its carbon neutrality strategy. South Korea is hoping hydrogen will supply around 1/3 of its energy by 2050. But Percy stresses that despite all the excitement, green hydrogen is still currently a bit player in the global decarbonisation game. He says it's really very small scale right now, but it is ramping up. China's state owned energy company Sinopec has started construction on what will be the world's largest green hydrogen facility. When completed it will produce 30,000 tons of green hydrogen each year. At the moment less than a million tonnes of low carbon hydrogen is produced annually, and much of that is created using hydrocarbons with the resulting carbon then captured.
Spain is also striding ahead with production and in 2020 unveiled its plans to become a major hydrogen producer. It set a target of producing four gigawatts of green hydrogen annually by 2030. But it has already surpassed this four times over and has plans for more production facilities. Cost is still an issue. About 60% of the expense of green hydrogen is the cost of renewable energy used to produce it does according to Percy, so as renewable energy gets cheaper hydrogen will to the cost of electrolyzer technology is another major component of hydrogen is relatively high price. But Mowill says electrolyzers are becoming more efficient. There are also logistics of storage, compression and transportation, which further bump up the price of a molecule of green hydrogen. But as hydrogen star rises, these costs will inevitably come down. Percy says if you look at what happened with solar, both solar and battery systems came down about 80%. In about 10 years, he says he predicts the same will happen with hydrogen Once it finds more solid technological ground. He also says the trials that are happening now are really important for the industry to learn from. He also says while it's a pilot scale today, in five years time, they're likely to be ready for something bigger. Okay, so as I'm thinking about this article, I believe it's important to understand the context of what they're really talking about here.
Now, I understand the emphasis of talking about electrolytic hydrogen, because they're focused so much on Australia, as Australia really continues to keep their foothold on being kind of the green hydrogen hub of the world. And it makes sense why? Because if you look at the US and Europe, neither of them have really laid down a foundation of electrolytic hydrogen to become a viable hydrogen solution. Both are still talking about additionality clauses and reporting metrics. Australia, on the other hand, doesn't have that problem. So with that being said, and putting that electrolytic hydrogen in context within this article, if we expand the thought of this article to a global prospect, we can pull in other hydrogen technologies that are low zero or even negative on the carbon intensity scale, and apply that to this framework.
And so now what we're looking at is ammonia globally as a commodity and using hydrogen and this new hydrogen wave as the solution for the fertilizer needs of the future. Now, obviously, Exxon's Baytown blue hydrogen facility is the global juggernaut for ammonia. But even with the massive amounts of ammonia that the Baytown plant will be putting out, more is still needed globally, which is where Australia can step in and other green facilities are on the way Old can convert their hydrogen into ammonia for fertilizers around the world. But to finish up, one of the things that I do really appreciate about this article, is to make sure that attention globally around the hydrogen industry isn't just focused on transportation, but that we can set our sights on other things like ammonia as not a derivative of what the hydrogen industry is doing, but a primary product, and something that is critical for global crop development.
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 podcast, Spotify, Google, YouTube, whatever it is, that will be a tremendous help to the show. And as always, if you ever 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 amd 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.