Several European projects have been developed aiming to increase the awareness of hydrogen in the European communities. However, many obstacles are hindering the full integration of these technologies. One of the main barriers to overcome is how to connect stakeholders, end-users, policymakers, and communities interested in hydrogen technologies.
GenComm, SEAFUEL, and HUGE present a unique Hydrogen Triple Alliance aiming to secure wider reach, extend to other communities, and combine data from these green hydrogen project – the first cross-Interreg hydrogen partnership of its kind.
The alliance will integrate their resources to enlarge the Community Hydrogen Forum (CH2F), share expertise and amplify the different resources developed in the projects, and more importantly, deliver enhanced benefits for the European communities.
SMART hydrogen (SMART H2) generated from renewable energy is fuelling the European energy revolution and creating new business models, opportunities, reach and control. Hydrogen is decoupling the European Energy network; we are on the cusp of an energy transition that will revolutionise the energy networks, as we know them. European Communities, especially in remote areas, face multiple challenges to become energy secure and sustainable. Growth in electricity from renewable sources is stalling due to intermittency, grid restrictions, curtailment, and high costs. Sustainable energy to supply the transport sector and heating demand are even further underexploited.
To decarbonise Europe, clean renewable power production must become the main source of energy. Building on the empirical work of GenComm the project team have assembled the HAZEL consortium. This main aim of this group is to develop Power to X solutions for green hydrogen. An estimated increase in offshore wind capacity in Europe from 22 GW today to 240 440 GW by 2050 presents a huge opportunity for a new European Fossil Free Energy Equation.
Our work has demonstrated that green hydrogen will prove to be a key link between growing and sustainable renewable electricity generation and the hard to decarbonise industrial sectors. Hydrogen is a versatile energy vector that can circumnavigate many decarbonisation obstacles but in doing so, it has many hurdles it must navigate in order to become universally accepted and utilised to its maximum potential.
The GenComm journey to date has highlighted that hydrogen is a ubiquitous energy vector, one that can be utilised in diverse applications beyond ‘traditional’ applications including those that require a high energy density, ranging from serving as a feedstock for chemical reactions, producing a range of synthetic fuels and feedstock’s. Importantly hydrogen’s greatest advantage is that it can be electricity grid independent, thereby allowing new energy distribution networks to be deployed and enabling greater renewable energy integration. It is this energy system advantage that delivers enhanced system flexibility and storage, which support further deployment of variable renewable energy (VRE); contribution to energy security; reduced air pollution; and other socio-economic benefits such as economic growth and job creation, and industrial competitiveness.
Through our research we have shown that the versatility of hydrogen as an energy vector can be highlighted in achieving sector coupling, enabling greater renewable energy sources to be integrated into the energy system, in the provision of reliable storage capacity and addressing renewables intermittency. Green hydrogen production will address excess renewables grid capacity and assist operators to balance the grid.
In our discussions others have sought to highlight the short-term obstacles that hinder green hydrogen deployment. Our experience has shown that we need to reposition the discussion and address the pollution effects of our current energy mix . We need to rise to the challenges of successfully achieving an energy transition to net zero. A just transition where no communities or users are left stranded and all have access to a green energy solution capable of meeting their needs for security, growth and sustainability. Rather than look short term to hydrogen use we need to look at hydrogen optimisation, where, when and how best to deploy green hydrogen development, deployment and use.
As Europe transitions to net zero powered by green hydrogen as an energy vector over the next 50 years we will witness a fundamental transformation in our energy system. The hydrogen economy has the potential to deliver national energy security, reduce environmental impact, and create significant commercial and job creation opportunities. There are major obstacles on the path to achieving our hydrogen economy, the path will not be simple or straightforward but the rewards far outweigh the short-term adjustments that we must make.