• Hydrogen energy storage gaining increased interest

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

Hydrogen as means for storing green energy has been receiving more attention in recent months, as an article by the Financial Times demonstrates. Intermittent solar and wind power generation can be used to electrolyse water to produce hydrogen (and oxygen), the former which can be stored for later use when, for instance, winds are low at night. Two means for using the hydrogen are in fuel cells or via combustion, the first being explored more for transport and the second more for power plants. Hydrogen storage allows for greater energy intensity compared to battery storage of electricity, meaning that, for transport, larger vehicle ranges are possible (as well as larger vehicles, such as trucks, airplanes and even ships), which has convinced Toyota to continue with the development of fuel-cell powered cars. A chief competitor to hydrogen for transport, Tesla owner Elon Musk, has argued that electrolysis to make green hydrogen makes little sense as there are energy losses in the conversion, but this criticism must be partly the product of competitive tension. On the combustion side, hydrogen offers a zero carbon option without the need for carbon capture and storage, as companies such as Vattenfall’s Dutch subsidiary Nuon has been exploring along with Gasunie and Statoil. Gasunie’s involvement in green hydrogen has recently expanded to involve a potential projectwith Dutch paint manufacturer Akzo Nobel, in which the two companies will build a green hydrogen plant, some of product of which will be used at one of Akzo’s paint factories. As the Akzo CEO told Reuters, “This technology has enormous potential.” The proposed plant would use 20 MW of electricity to electrolyse water, making up to 3,000 tonnes of hydrogen gas annually, and a positive investment decision will be made if enough buyers can be found for the product.