The costs of generating electricity from wind and solar power have fallen significantly below other energy sources. The more widespread the use of renewable energies in energy systems and decarbonisation processes, the greater the importance of hydrogen as storage medium and essential element of green fuels, gases and chemicals.
Green electricity generated in regions with favourable climatic conditions has to be transmitted over long distances in order to reach major cities and industrialised regions, and must be storable as required in order to compensate for daily and seasonal fluctuations in generation. Power lines and battery storage systems are only suitable for use in locations of close and medium proximity or for short-term storage.
Hydrogen, on the other hand, can be produced from renewable sources and stored and transported, all in large quantities – and all using existing gas infrastructures. Reputable studies are forecasting cost parity between green and conventional hydrogen in favourable regions by 2030
Holistic approach, transparent baseline
In addition, it has been extensively used in industry (ammonia and fertiliser production) and in refineries for over a century, and is thus tried and tested. The production of steel can be rendered virtually carbon-free when hydrogen is used to directly reduce the iron ore. With its ground-breaking VERIsteel procedure, TÜV SÜD can provide proof of product-specific CO2 emissions in steel products.
The first VERIsteel conformity statements were handed over to Salzgitter AG in February 2021. But the procedure can also be applied to other energy-intensive industries to flank the process of decarbonisation. It is the method of choice to help industries and companies to validate their success in reducing CO2 emissions, as part of the global fight against climate change.
Safety in use, credibility in trade
As a fuel, hydrogen can power railways, trucks, ships and aircraft, in either direct-combustion or fuel-cell systems. All elements of those systems and, naturally, the vehicles themselves must be in line with the state of the art and as safe as is humanly possible.
While comprehensive regulations are already in place governing the quality of materials used for tanks, pipelines and industrial installations and addressing explosion protection, they must now be aligned to these new areas of application to ensure that hydrogen can be safely used in achieving widespread decarbonisation of all systems.
As energy consumers do not distinguish between hydrogen molecules generated using different methods, European and global markets need to introduce guarantees of origin for hydrogen which supply reliable, impartial assessment and measure and verify the carbon reduction in its production. A first step in this direction is the Europe-wide CertifHy scheme.