Green hydrogen as an energy vector: Contribution to sustainability and decarbonisation
February 24, 2021

What is green hydrogen and how is it obtained?

Talking about green hydrogen is talking about the future. This fuel will be one of those responsible for replacing all current fossil fuels.

Hydrogen (H2) is the most abundant chemical element in the universe, and on our planet we consume more than seventy million tons a year. But above all, it’s one of the main fuels connected with decarbonisation, the most important goal set worldwide for 2050.

Green hydrogen is obtained by electrolysis, a method that consists of using electric current to separate the hydrogen from the oxygen in water into molecules. If this electricity comes from a renewable source, the result is that we can produce energy without emitting CO2 into the atmosphere.

With this system for obtaining green hydrogen, there could be an annual saving of 830 million tons of CO2, which is produced when this gas comes from fossil fuels. As the generation of renewable energy becomes cheaper, so will that of green hydrogen, which today still has a high production cost.

Three key characteristics define green hydrogen:

  • It’s 100% sustainable and doesn’t emit polluting gases during combustion or production.
  • Its ability to store surplus fuel and guarantee energy supply at times other than during its production.
  • The possibility of transformation into various forms of energy such as heat, synthetic gas or electricity, thereby favouring its application to the transport, domestic, retail and industrial sectors.
  • Its use in intensive industry, where it works with high temperatures that hardly have options to decarbonise.
  • It’s transportable, as it can be mixed with up to 20% of natural gas and it travels through the same gas channels and infrastructures.

It’s undeniable that the more society progresses technology-wise, the more watts we’ll need to function. An increase in global energy demand of between 25% and 30% is expected in the next twenty years, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Given that we’re currently an economy dependent on coal and oil, this would mean an increase in carbon dioxide emissions and a failure in the fight against climate change and the 2030 Agenda.

Fortunately, the Spanish electricity generation park is increasingly renewable and research into new technologies is unstoppable.

In fact, green hydrogen is a technological opportunity for Spain due to the country’s privileged position in the generation of renewable electricity and the network of gas infrastructures available to transport and store renewable gases.

Following this line of action, Iberdrola is considering a new green hydrogen mega plant with Fertiberia, entailing an investment of one billion euros in a time frame set between 2023 and 2027. In Puertollano (Ciudad Real), the company is already developing the largest green hydrogen plant for industrial use in Europe, with an investment of 150 million euros and the idea to supply the Fertiberia fertiliser factory in the town.

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