Amid the ongoing climate crisis, several countries across the globe have (finally) started to look into actually shifting to renewables as a permanent energy source, and Saudi Arabia — as well as a handful of other countries — are starting to hop aboard the green hydrogen train. But what exactly is green hydrogen?
Green hydrogen is a newly discovered energy source that has not yet gained popularity across the U.S. yet, although there is currently a U.S. plant in the works in Saudi Arabia.
“It is very promising,” Rachel Fakhry, an energy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York told the BBC. “The last 15 percent of the economy is hard to clean up – aviation, shipping, manufacturing, long-distance trucking... Green hydrogen can do that.”
What is green hydrogen?
Green hydrogen has been deemed a promising fuel alternative that's could ultimately change the game in transitioning to renewable energy. CNBC defines green hydrogen as "hydrogen produced via the electrolysis of water, with the electricity used in the process coming from renewable sources like wind and solar," meaning it's fully renewable. And the best part — it's clean. Apparently, it can be used for anything, from transportation to industrial production.
In the European Union (EU), green hydrogen is viewed as a saving grace in the realm of fuel sources, to fully decarbonize and ultimately meet their goals, Right now, the EU is aiming to install 40 gigawatts of renewable hydrogen electrolysers, and to make upwards of 10 million metric tons of renewable hydrogen by 2030. Although green hydrogen production is currently pricey, it's expected to plummet by 2040.
“Even with a multitude of challenges that await the nascent green hydrogen market, we firmly believe there will be some form of low-carbon hydrogen economy soon,” said Ben Gallagher, a senior research analyst at Wood Mackenzie, a renewable energy research and consultancy group. “Given the degree of explicit policy, corporate and social support that has blossomed in 2020, green hydrogen will successfully scale and realize huge production cost declines.”
Saudi Arabia and other countries are getting behind green hydrogen.
A city that's set to completely rely on green hydrogen as its main source of energy is currently in the works on the edge of the Saudi Arabian desert, as per BBC. The city will be called Neom, it will reportedly be home to 1 million residents, and it's going to be completely carbon neutral. Part of Neom will consist of a U.S. green hydrogen plant being built by Air Products and Chemicals. It will be powered by wind and solar energy, and it's one of many in the Middle Eastern country.
As Europe's gas prices have continued rising — and with the EU's goals to shift to renewables — many European countries are also looking to get in on green hydrogen. Germany, for example, has apparently invested most of its renewable energy funds into green hydrogen.
Although it may initially be a pricey shift, and despite the fact hydrogen is apparently difficult to store, it certainly sounds like a great alternative to the dirty, non-renewable fossil fuels we're currently relying on.