How the Scottish Green Hydrogen Plan crushes the fossil hydrogen dream


Clean power

Published on September 16, 2020 |
by Tina Casey

September 16, 2020 by Tina Casey

A new boost in hydrogen fuel cell activity has given fossil fuel players a chance to tap into new markets, but this bubble of hope is about to burst with the arrival of new technology. “Green hydrogen”. A case in point is Scotland, which has devised a plan to pivot its vast wealth of wind and other renewable energies into the service of zero-emission hydrogen production – and possibly other products as well. sustainable hydrogen.

Scotland is cutting down dreams of fossil fuels with projects to produce green hydrogen from water and renewable energy (photo courtesy of Scottish Power Renewables).

Scotland: offshore wind meets green hydrogen

If Scotland and wind power ring the same bell, it could be due to media coverage of a nasty tiff involving a new Scottish offshore wind farm and a golf course owned by a US president. Or, it could be due to Scotland’s leading position in offshore wind. Either way, Scotland is a small nation (5.4 million people) with a disproportionate influence over the global wind industry, so this is something to consider when considering the new green hydrogen plan. of Scotland.

The basic idea is that Scotland’s offshore wind resources (and other renewable energies) could be deployed to help decarbonise the heavy transport sector by using it to produce green hydrogen for fuel cells. fuel, in the absence of other alternatives.

The main route for renewable hydrogen today is electrolysis, in which water is “split” by an electric current. Biogas and electrophotochemical conversion are also in the mix, but so far it looks like electrolysis is winning the race as costs come down. This includes the cost of electrolysis systems as well as the cost of wind and solar electricity.

As an energy carrier, hydrogen can be used for bulk and long-lasting energy storage, so one of the advantages of green hydrogen is the ability to store electricity on a large scale at leave wind farms at night when demand is low.

Hydrogen can also be transported by existing roads, waterways or pipelines, which would help reduce or eliminate the need to build new transport infrastructure to get more clean energy from source to points. of use.

Green hydrogen bursts fossil fuel bubble

Aside from the heavy transport angle, hydrogen is a ubiquitous industrial element with wide application in agriculture and food processing (for fertilizers and hydrogenation), to name a few . Rocket fuel, refining operations, metallurgy and scientific research are also part of the mix.

So, if new supersonic battery technology emerges in a sparkling green future that takes hydrogen fuel cells away from the heavy transport picture, there is a possibility that Scotland will pivot its green hydrogen industry to other sectors.

The main source of hydrogen today is natural gas, but major manufacturers are well aware that consumers today are turning to sustainable products. If the green hydrogen industry really takes off, manufacturers who depend on hydrogen will have a more sustainable supply chain choice in the future.

Similarly, if Scotland could one day export green hydrogen at a competitive cost to other industrial sectors, the ripple effect could be felt far beyond the storage sectors. energy, power generation and transport.

They will, however, have to compete with Australia. This nation is already all over the sustainable hydrogen as a cheap suit and is looking at the markets in Asia for its new green export product.

Yes, hydrogen and electrification can get along

Where were we? Oh yes, Scotland. Scotland’s new hydrogen plan brings heavy trucks to the table in the service of a sustainable heavy transport sector. The so-called “Green Hydrogen for Scotland” plan links ScottishPower Renewables, owned by Ibderola, to the British BOC (under the aegis of Linde) and to the fuel cell expert and green hydrogen specialist ITM Power of “gigastack monster ”.

“The new facilities planned by ‘Green Hydrogen for Scotland’ will ensure that zero emission fuel is readily available to organizations such as local authorities and others with heavy vehicle fleets,” Scottish Power explained in a press release. Earlier in the day.

The first is Glasgow, which has set itself the goal of becoming the UK’s first net-zero city by 2030.

It could happen as soon as possible. “A proposed green hydrogen production facility located on the outskirts of the city will be operated by BOC, using wind and solar power produced by ScottishPower Renewables to operate a 10 MW electrolyser, delivered by ITM Power,” said Scottish Power. “The project aims to deliver hydrogen to the commercial market within the next two years.”

When it comes to battery-powered vehicles, Lindsay McQuade, CEO of ScottishPower Renewables, is pretty clear that global decarbonization is going to be a hands-on effort that uses all available technology.

“While electrification will play an important role in removing gasoline and diesel vehicles from our roads and will make a big difference to the planet, it can only go very far, and we are doing something about it,” a- he declared. “Our revolutionary approach – which will truly be a game-changer – fully supports the large-scale transformation needed to replace heavy-duty diesel vehicles with cleaner, greener alternatives.”

More bad news for oil and gas stakeholders

As for fossil fuel enthusiasts, the name BOC should make their woods shiver. BOC mainly produces fossil hydrogen from natural gas through a network of steam reforming plants in England and Wales. However, he has an electrolysis facility under his belt in Ireland. The addition of the Scottish Notch to its production network indicates that the company is seeing growth in this area.

Mark Griffin of BOC, director of market development for clean fuels, dropped a hint in that direction.

“We already operate the largest hydrogen production and refueling site in Europe in Aberdeen and look forward to working with boards across Scotland to develop more projects in partnership with SPR and ITM Power”, a- he declared.

Say it! BOC’s customer list includes the all-important food and beverage sector, where brands are becoming particularly sensitive to consumer preferences for sustainable products. Ditto for soaps and other toiletries, as well as for plastics.

BOC is also a supplier to industries that produce chemical intermediates for pharmaceuticals and for use in semiconductor manufacturing.

Aerospace, iron, steel and glass industries are also on the list.

Of further interest is BOC’s customer list in the petroleum industry, where hydrogen is used to remove organic sulfur from various fuels.

Keep an eye out for BOC’s operations in Glasgow, where the company is firmly rooted in traditional industries. As part of the city’s net zero plan, BOC will likely be spearheading additional initiatives in the years to come.

Parent company Linde, for its part, will likely keep a close eye. A successful green hydrogen pivot by BOC could spill over to Linde and beyond.

In the meantime, seek out the United States to catch up after the November 3 election. If President * Trump gets the coup de grace, a green recovery from COVID-19 could put the country on track to reach net zero by 2050, some analysts say.

The energy department appears determined to deploy more sustainable hydrogen in the future, so stay tuned for more.

Follow me on Twitter.

* Story development.

Photo: “The East Anglia hub combines three offshore wind farm projects (East Anglia ONE North, Two and Three) into a single delivery program with a capacity of 3,100 MW – enough to power the equivalent of more 2.7 million homes * ”courtesy of Scottish Renewable Energy.

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Keywords: BOC, electricity, Glasgow, green hydrogen, hydrogen, Ibderola, ITM Power, renewables, Scotland, Scottish Power Renewables, The Linde Group

About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are republished frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. The opinions expressed are his own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


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