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In Part 2 of our roundtable on the state of hydrogen in the turbomachinery industry, experts and OEMs discuss the various obstacles that are preventing the large-scale implementation of hydrogen.
In the second part of our three-part roundtable Q&A on the state of hydrogen in the turbomachinery industry, experts and OEMs discuss the various obstacles that are preventing the large-scale implementation of hydrogen, including the costs of manufacturing hydrogen, transporting it to a power station, and providing large-scale storage at the site.
Axford Turbine Consultants
Global Director of R&D
Ebara-Elliott Energy Company
Head of Business Strategy
Sustainable Energy Systems
Senior Manager Business Development
MAN Energy Solutions
Market Manager Hydrogen
Atlas Copco Gas and Process
Q: WHAT OBSTACLES ARE PREVENTING THE LARGE-SCALE IMPLEMENTATION OF HYDROGEN?
MARK AXFORD: The main obstacles are the costs of physically manufacturing hydrogen, transporting it to a power station, and providing large-scale storage at the site. Modern gas turbine power plants utilize combined-cycle technology for high efficiency. These plants are designed to run at baseload and typically utilize building blocks of 300 – 600 MW of capacity. Continuous consumption of this much fuel requires an infrastructure of interconnected pipelines fed from numerous fuel sources. Because this infrastructure does not exist for hydrogen, a nearby storage cavern of substantial proportion must be located near the power plant. In terms of green hydrogen, the electrolyzer and renewable energy sources need to be located nearby. These obstacles can be overcome with government subsidies, but only if the cost of green electricity does not matter.
The main obstacles [preventing large-scale implementation of hydrogen] are the costs of physically manufacturing hydrogen, transporting it to a power station, and providing large-scale storage at the site. - Mark Axford
KLAUS BRUN: The primary obstacle to the large-scale implementation of hydrogen as an energy carrier is the cost of hydrogen production, transport, and storage. It is difficult to utilize or convert the existing hydro-carbon transport infrastructure to hydrogen transport because of the challenging physical properties of hydrogen. As previously noted, hydrogen is not an easy gas to handle. Thus, to convert our industrial and domestic usage from fossil fuels to hydrogen requires an entirely new infrastructure, which could cost trillions of dollars. This is something that will take time, money, and commitment to implement.
ALEX HABEDER: Reasonably priced and affordable electrolyzers are the prerequisite for covering the growing demand and future hydrogen costs. Furthermore, generating green hydrogen requires a significant and accelerated expansion of renewable energy worldwide. This expansion can only accelerate if permitting becomes faster and less complicated. Automated factories for electrolysis on an industrial scale (including the GW scale) must be constructed, and the pipeline and industrial-scale hydrogen storage infrastructure must be implemented for storing and transporting the hydrogen.
ANDREAS KRAMER: If the preconditions described in the first question have not been achieved, and the necessary infrastructure has not been established, large-scale implementation of hydrogen is expected to face significant challenges and may ultimately fail.
DANIEL PATRICK: Supply and demand is one of the largest obstacles hydrogen faces today. We are stuck in the classic “chicken-or-the-egg” situation. Hydrogen producers need confidence that there will be eager consumers, while consumers need reassurance there will be a consistent supply of hydrogen to suit their needs. Both sides of the supply chain seem to be looking at the other, waiting to see what will happen next. With the number of hydrogen projects on the horizon and the ever-growing demand sector, this seems to be a short-term issue. Once we get past the supply-and-demand hurdle, the next challenge will be bringing down the cost of hydrogen. Companies and consumers are generally willing to pay a “green” premium, but there are still significant economic gains to be made before hydrogen becomes adopted as a mainstream energy carrier.
Click here to read Part 1: Roundtable Q&A: The State of Hydrogen in the Turbomachinery Industry.