Green Hydrogen the future of renewable energy

Green Hydrogen competing with gasoline and diesel

Green hydrogen is a form of renewable energy that is obtained from the electrolysis of water and using electrical energy, coming from clean sources such as wind or solar. Thus, it can be used as fuel for vehicles powered by fuel cells, which only emit water as waste.

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Green hydrogen has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to the energy transition. However, there are still several challenges to face before it becomes a viable alternative to fossil fuels, such as diesel and gasoline.

Hydrogen is one of the cleanest and most abundant fuels on the planet, but also one of the most expensive given the difficulty in producing and storing it.

In fact, one of the challenges is the cost of producing green hydrogen, which is currently much higher than that of conventional fuels.

This is due to the high consumption of electrical energy required to carry out water electrolysis, as well as the costs of the necessary equipment and infrastructure.

In addition to complex production, there is no green hydrogen distribution and supply network, which will imply high and complex investments.

As hydrogen is a highly flammable and explosive gas, its transport and storage also require special safety conditions.

Hydrogen Cycle; Credit: Nanopedia, via Wikimedia Commons
Hydrogen Cycle; Credit: Nanopedia, via Wikimedia Commons

Finally, there is great controversy regarding the acceptance of green hydrogen not only in its industrial use and transport, but also in its use in automobiles.

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There needs to be not only social acceptance, but also a paradigm shift, both among consumers and political decision-makers, and also to regulate both the production and use of green hydrogen.

In short, green hydrogen may compete with diesel and gasoline in the future, but it still has a long way to go before it becomes a reality.

However, we have already seen that, for example, BMW is not neglecting this issue and is testing in the field with a group of vehicles to verify its effectiveness. And the BMW iX5 Hydrogen which is in the testing phase.

There is already a study, dated November 15, 2023, developed by the University of Houston, in the United States, which admits the possibility of green hydrogen being a competitive substitute for diesel and gasoline in transport.

This study, with the title in Portuguese “Competitive hydrogen pricing as an economic alternative to gasoline and diesel for Houston's transportation sector” concluded that hydrogen fuel could be sold at a price equivalent to that of gasoline and diesel in 2030, considering production, distribution and supply costs.

The researchers analyzed several hydrogen supply and demand scenarios in the Houston metropolitan region, which is the fourth largest city in the United States and one of the main centers of the global energy industry.

Green hydrogen production and consumption diagram. The wind turbine represents carbon-free electricity generation. Credit: Longershanks, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Green hydrogen production and consumption diagram. The wind turbine represents carbon-free electricity generation; Credit: Longershanks, via Wikimedia Commons

Hydrogen benefits from the greater efficiency of fuel cell-powered vehicles, which can reach 60%, compared to 20% for internal combustion engines.

The results consider that the final price of hydrogen for the consumer would be between 2 and 3 dollars per kilogram in 2030, which would be equivalent to the price of gasoline and diesel considering the efficiency of the vehicles.

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The study also highlights the environmental and economic benefits of using hydrogen as a fuel for transport. Hydrogen does not emit local pollutants or greenhouse gases when used in fuel cells or internal combustion engines. Furthermore, hydrogen can create business and employment opportunities in the Houston region, which already has a developed energy infrastructure and a high demand for clean fuels.

Hydrogen is considered one of the fuels of the future, as it can be produced from various renewable or low-carbon sources, such as water, wind, sun or biomass. Hydrogen can be used in different sectors of the economy, such as industry, electricity, heating or mobility. However, there are still several challenges to making hydrogen a commercial reality, such as reducing production and distribution costs, increasing the efficiency and safety of hydrogen systems, and creating regulation favorable to its development.

The Houston study is another step towards showing that hydrogen can compete with diesel and gasoline in terms of price and transport performance. If this scenario is confirmed in practice, hydrogen could contribute to the global energy transition.

Its authors recommend that more investment be made in hydrogen research and development, as well as in the creation of an integrated network of infrastructures.

Furthermore, they suggest that greater cooperation be promoted between the different agents involved in the hydrogen sector, such as producers, distributors, vehicle manufacturers and consumers and that investment be promoted in R&D, innovation and standards and incentives for their development and use.

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