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Here you can catch up on some of the latest news on hydrogen from across the world! Simply click to expand the story…

23 July 2020 by Jo Wilkinson, Head of Production at Solar Media

74 expressions of interest for hydrogen projects worth an estimated Euros 16 billion have been received by The Portuguese Ministry of Environment and Climate Action. The announcement which came on Sunday specified the total investment could top Euros 16 billion (18.3 billion USD).

A Project Admission Committee will now assess proposals, received from a wide selection of players, large and small, international and domestic. The submissions equate to around 7.5% of Portuguese GDP and would be notable for the new jobs and economic stimulus provided.

The consultation was launched in alignment with the Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI), an initiative of the European Commission which encourages innovation and disruption of traditional business models and comes hot on the heels of the Commission’s own green hydrogen strategy which was announced on the 8th July. The strategy laid out an ambitious plan to create a €650 billion industry and 1 million new jobs.

Portugal has recently emerged as a beacon of opportunity in a renewables industry which is seeing a renaissance across Europe. Its 2019 solar tender was oversubscribed with record low bids from Akuo and Iberdrola winning a share in the 1.15GW solar pot and a 2020 auction of 700 MW of solar targeting the southern regions of Alentejo and Algarve will be completed at the end of July 2020. Winners will be revealed in September. Speaking to PV-Tech, a spokesperson for the government indicated this auction will be followed by another exercise of 500MW (the figure is indicative) towards the end of the year.

The announcement comes around a month before the Green Hydrogen Virtual Summit at which the Rt. Hon João Galamba, Portugal’s Secretary of State for Energy will speak. Mr. Galamba will outline the opportunity for investment in Portugal and will be joined by other major Portuguese stakeholders and investors into the Portuguese renewables market such as Galp, Smartenergy, Resilient Group and APREN, the association for the Portuguese renewable industry.

Green hydrogen is fast picking up traction in Southern Europe with developers of solar projects eyeing up the technology’s capability to provide an additional revenue stream and cushion the blow for any potential drop in revenue due to low power prices and reductions in government incentive schemes. Similarly, northern Europe is seeing wind developers look towards hydrogen. Analysis in PV-Tech pointed to an additional 120GW of renewables would be needed just to accomplish the EU’s green hydrogen goals which form a key piece of the wider decarbonisation puzzle.

We spoke to one of the Green Hydrogen Virtual Summit speakers, Marc Rechter of Resilient Group who highlighted the role that green hydrogen could play in decarbonising heavy industry and transport. Resilient Group focuses on developing and incubating investments in Renewable Energy, Green Hydrogen, Smart grids, IoT, Cloud Analytics, Logistics, Tourism and Real Estate and it is behind the 1GW solar+hydrogen Green Flamingo initiative proposed in the port of Sines. The initiative has attracted interest from the Dutch government, EDP (Energias de Portugal) and oil group Galp Energia.

Of green hydrogen, Rechter says it is “currently identified as the only energy carrier capable of enabling the timely decarbonisation of heavy industry, trucking, maritime navigation and aviation. The maturity of electrolysis technology is already a fact and will now be an opportunity to contribute to the reindustrialization of some European countries”.

Rechter continues, “Green hydrogen depends on the renewable energy sector for its power input. Increasingly, the roll out of green hydrogen systems will allow renewable energy assets to maintain economic viability in an electrical market with a high tendency for curtailment.”

Rechter joins a panel of international experts at the upcoming summit in August which will uncover the drivers to investment, key projects of interest, government policy frameworks and the view of offtakers to going green. The summit is all accessible online and registrants can book tickets here: Green Hydrogen Virtual Summit

08 July 2020 by Jo Wilkinson, Head of Production at Solar Media

EU hydrogen – a €650 billion industry and 1 million jobs by 2050?
The EU has today published its hydrogen strategy and launched the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance as it claims the European hydrogen economy could reach €650 billion by 2050 and supply up to 24% of the world’s needs.

EU Bodies Involved/€10 billion support fund and a call for proposals 
This will be achieved through the Alliance and the InvestEU programme which will be scaled to accommodate this work, the European Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund. A new initiative, REACT-EU will support the transition. The Connecting Europe Facility for Energy and the Connecting Europe Facility for Transport will be asked to play a role where synergies exist and the EU-ETS Innovation Fund will pool €10 billion to support the low-carbon transition from now until 2030.

A call for proposals has already been issued on the 3rd July. Mechanisms such as InnovFin Energy Demonstration Projects and the European Investment Bank Advisory Hubs may also be involved.

Member state commitments
Member states will include their hydrogen commitments within their own National Energy and Climate Plans. The strategy will form part of the post covid19 recovery package at a national and international level and help the continent to move towards its climate neutrality goals.

The scale of investment
Estimates from the EU’s own calculations say the potential for investment into the European industry could reach “€180-470 billion by 2050, and in the range of €3-18 billion for low-carbon fossil-based hydrogen. The industry could provide jobs for up to 1 million people and annual sales could reach €650 billion by 2050 with Europe providing 24% of the world’s supply.”

Bringing CAPEX down and corollaries with other industries
Reaching these goals will rely on the cost competitiveness of the industry. The strategy states that “current estimated costs for fossil-based hydrogen are around 1.5 €/kg for the EU, highly dependent on natural gas prices, and disregarding the cost of CO2. Estimated costs for fossil-based hydrogen with carbon capture and storage are around 2 €/kg, and renewable hydrogen 2.5-5.5 €/kg.” Costs are already dropping with electroliser costs having reduced by 60% since 2010 and are expected to halve again by 2030. Similar estimates which were previously made for wind, solar and storage costs have always shown to underestimate the speed at which costs drop as industries scale up.

Renewable hydrogen
As subsidies for wind and solar wane, power prices drop and PPAs become harder to come by, wind and solar projects are seeing their revenues become uncertain. There is hope that hydrogen can provide another source of revenue for these industries and a lot of activity is already taking place to investigate colocation of renewable generation with electrolisers across Europe. Similarly, as longer duration batteries become more necessary, there is a question around whether hydrogen is the next big storage technology. With longer duration and much bigger capacity.

The document claims that “Renewable hydrogen is the focus of the strategy, as it has the biggest decarbonisation potential and is therefore the most compatible option with the EU’s climate neutrality goal.” But it also sets provision for a transition phase through carbon capture and storage (CCS) and the use of low-carbon generation to improve emissions from hydrogen already in the supply chain.

Our sister site, PV-Tech reported on the news today noting that Up to 120GW of new renewables needed to meet EU’s 2030 green hydrogen needs. This could be a huge boon for new development of solar and wind projects across Europe. 

Phases of the strategy
The strategy will take a phased approach with the first phase taking place from 2020-2024. This will focus on greening existing hydrogen production and its promotion for new applications. Electroliser capacity will increase from 1GW today to 6GW during this phase and there is a goal of 1 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen. 

The next phase will take us to 2030 where there should be at least 40 GW of renewable hydrogen electrolisers and 10 million tonnes of hydrogen produced in the EU. Usage will be expanded to new sectors such as steel-making, trucks, rail and maritime creating local ecosystems. 

The final phase which takes us to 2050 will see the industry reach maturity and wide spread. The newly created European Clean Hydrogen Alliance, a group of sector-based CEOs, will support the creation of this new industry, enabling scale up of the industry through round tables which will include local authorities and civil society. The first initiative for the Alliance will be to identify and build up a clear pipeline of viable projects.

By Andy Colthorpe 6 July

A key committee of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) has voted overwhelmingly to thrust energy storage into the heart of the continent’s decarbonisation agenda, while trade group EASE has urged the EU to raise its targets on 2030 emissions reduction.

Last week, the Industry, Research and Energy Committee of MEPs voted 53 to 3, with 15 members abstaining, to adopt a report on energy storage strategy which argues that the technologies need to play a crucial role in reaching the EU’s goals which include going net zero by 2050.

Proposals that were welcomed by MEPs included the removal of barriers to energy storage development in regulatory regimes that govern much of the European energy sector. These include double charging, or double taxation, where storage systems are levied fees once for charging from the grid and again when discharging to the grid. The MEPs highlighted this and other “shortcomings in EU network codes”, as well as arguing that there should be support for newer technologies including green hydrogen and thermal storage.

Green hydrogen – hydrogen generated from renewable sources – still needs support to become economically viable, and the MEPs called on the European Commission to support research efforts. While batteries on the other hand are already commercially viable for many applications, the European Commission has invested in supporting a European domestic ecosystem for battery production, with nearly all batteries currently imported. Raw and processed materials too, need a more sustainable supply chain and better recycling for components is needed, the report said. 

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By Liam Stoker July 01

German utility E.On has partnered with engineering major thyssenkrupp to plug large-scale hydrogen electrolysis plants into Germany’s grid using a renewables-backed virtual power plant (VPP).

The companies will make use of a 600MW VPP comprising distributed generation assets in both Germany and the UK to provide surplus power to electrolysis plants whenever needed. In tandem, the VPP will allow power otherwise earmarked for hydrogen production to be diverted to the grid at times of high demand.

The approach, both companies said, would make hydrogen electrolysis plants “electricity market ready” while simultaneously enabling industrial hydrogen to integrate into energy systems more efficiently.

The entire process will be controlled automatically by E.On’s VPP software, adapting generation and consumption in accordance with network loads.

The method has been successfully tested within a pilot scheme, dubbed Carbon2Chem, using a plant with a capacity of 2MW in Duisburg, Germany.

Due to the fast-response nature of thyssenkrupp’s electrolysis plant, the companies also pointed towards the potential for the technology to participate in primary control power markets, a method that has already been tested with Germany’s transmission system operator.

Thyssenkrupp and E.On are now marketing the ‘Power-to-X technology’, promoting the VPP coupling as an additional option for operational hydrolysis plants.

Stefan Hakansson, chief executive at E.On Business Solutions, said the collaboration with thyssenkrupp followed the company’s principle that any conversion of industry to clean energy must be “essentially economical”. 

Read more here

By José Rojo Martín Jun 17

The EU’s renewable targets remain well within reach despite COVID-19’s long shadow, according to figures released as countries urge the bloc to embrace the “missing link” of green hydrogen.

Earlier this week, the European Commission said it has assessed the national energy and climate plans put forward by states (see table below) and found that they would deliver an EU-wide renewable energy share of over 33% by 2030, overshooting the binding target of 32%.

“Based on our initial analysis we can already see that regarding renewables, the news is positive,” EU Energy commissioner Kadri Simson said after a ministerial meeting. “However, in the context of crisis and the fall of renewable investments, we must make sure progress in this area continues.”

The Commission, Simson said after conferring online this week with EU Energy ministers, will follow with a definitive analysis of all national plans now that almost all states – only Ireland is missing – have produced theirs. By the autumn, the EU executive will publish its verdict.  

Read more here

By José Rojo Martín Jun 10

Yet another major green hydrogen initiative has seen the light in Australia, joining a recent flurry of activity in a year where countries are betting on the renewable gas as a COVID-19 recovery pillar.

This week, news emerged of a plan by Austrom Hydrogen Pty Ltd to deploy a 3.6GW solar-plus-storage complex in the state of Queensland, meant to power the mass production of green hydrogen that would be exported to Asia at a later stage.

In a statement, the entity said it has now secured enough land for the Pacific Solar Hydrogen scheme near the town of Callide, a seven-hour drive northwest from state capital Brisbane and a one-hour drive west from the port city of Gladstone.

Austrom – who wants the solar fleet to power the production of 200,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year – plans to use the port-side location to export the renewable gas to Japan, South Korea and others. Imports from the complex alone could meet 60% of Japan’s goals for 2030, it is estimated. 

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By Liam Stoker May 11

BP has landed funding from the Australian government to assess the feasibility of a renewable hydrogen and ammonia production facility in Western Australia.

The announcement, made late last week, comes just days after a prospective scheme of similar nature – albeit on a giant scale – received approval from the Australian state’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

Last Friday (8 May 2020) the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) said that AU$1.7 million of funding had been granted towards a AU$4.4 million feasibility study by BP and GHD Advisory, which will explore the use of renewable power to create hydrogen via electrolysis.

The study, to be completed by February 2021, will see BP procure renewables via a power purchase agreement, with Geraldton (Western Australia) selected as the location for the project based on its close proximity to solar and wind farms. 

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