The ‘Hydrogen Economy’ is a relatively new type of industry. It is a sunrise industry which uses hydrogen, a low carbon fuel, for heat as well as for hydrogen vehicles, seasonal energy storage, and the long-distance transport of energy. It is unsurprising that this new field of industrial development and research generates a new economy: the low-carbon economy.
What does low-carbon economy stand for? It is a newly conceived concept aimed at finding and establishing cost-effective uses of energy sources. Hydrogen is considered to be the fuel of future which may slowly replace fossil fuels. Nevertheless, the production of hydrogen from renewable electricity is currently still very costly. However, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the cost of producing hydrogen from renewable electricity could fall by 30% by 2030 as a result of declining costs of renewable resources and the scaling-up of hydrogen production.
It is of essential importance to clarify the exact conceptual framework of the ‘hydrogen economy’ as a kind of low-carbon economy. Hydrogen itself is not an energy source, but it is a form of energy storage. Another kind of energy source is taken, and it is generated into hydrogen which can then be turned back into useable energy through a fuel cell or even by burning it. Nowadays it is natural gas, which is generated into hydrogen, whereas in the near future it will be renewable electricity. There are problems related to the cost of the existing methods applied, serious problems related to the costs and dangers of storing, transporting, and using hydrogen and this is why the future of hydrogen as transportation energy is still considered uncertain. The promotion of the hydrogen economy has face challenges such as technical bottleneck, competition with optional technologies and interrelation with technology strategies.
The increasing need for enhancing energy security and mitigating the emission of greenhouse effects opens up a wide path of ongoing research into the field of the hydrogen economy. Hydrogen greatly reduces pollution since the only byproducts produced when combined with oxygen are water and heat. According to the IEA: “Hydrogen and energy have a long-shared history – powering the first internal combustion engines over 200 years ago to becoming an integral part of the modern refining industry. It is light, storable, energy-dense, and produces no direct emissions of pollutants or greenhouse gases. But for hydrogen to make a significant contribution to clean energy transitions, it needs to be adopted in sectors where it is almost completely absent, such as transport, buildings and power generation.”
One of humanity’s greatest concerns is to find a way to make the current energy economy sustainable and hydrogen opens up a viable path towards this goal. The Hydrogen Energy Center is building on the benefits of hydrogen in order to realise a sustainable energy economy.
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Written by Maria Papamargariti, Greek and English Philologist, writer in the field of children’s literature.