Corporate Players in Hydrogen Energy
Last summer, a large US gas company, Air Products & Chemicals, announced that as part of Neom it has been building a green hydrogen plant in Saudi Arabia for the past four years. The plant is powered by four gigawatts of electricity from wind and solar projects that sprawl across the desert. It claims to be the world’s largest green hydrogen project, with more Saudi plants on the drawing board.
BP plans to take its first steps into the burgeoning market for green hydrogen alongside the offshore wind developer Ørsted by developing a hydrogen project at one of its refineries in Germany.
The energy companies plan to create the clean-burning gas by using renewable energy, generated by Ørsted’s North Sea wind farms, to split water into hydrogen and oxygen at BP’s Lingen refinery from 2024.
The refinery will host an industrial-scale electrolyser with an initial capacity of 50 megawatts which is capable of producing enough of the green gas to replace a fifth of the refinery’s existing hydrogen demand, which relies on fossil fuels.
The oil company’s decision to begin producing green hydrogen, which can replace fossil-fuel gas without the carbon emissions, is an important step in its aim to become a carbon-neutral company by 2050.
BP has promised to reduce its fossil-fuel production by 40% over the next 10 years, and increase its investment in sustainable energy solutions such as renewable electricity, green hydrogen and carbon capture.
Dev Sanyal, the head of BP’s low-carbon business, said hydrogen was on course to play a growing role as the world transitions to cleaner energy sources, and BP was “determined to build a leading position in this emerging industry”.
Royal Dutch Shell
Shell’s ultimate goal is to produce green hydrogen, through electrolysis, using renewable power such as wind and solar. But moving quickly in the energy transition means both green and blue hydrogen can play a role in the decade ahead. Blue hydrogen is produced from natural gas and later decarbonised, using carbon capture and storage.
In order to keep up with increasing hydrogen and renewable power demand, blue hydrogen can provide an interim solution to help build the hydrogen ecosystem while still lowering emissions.
In Germany, Shell is working on the REFHYNE electrolyser that will produce green hydrogen using renewable energy. With vital funding of the EU’s Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, this 10 MW electrolyser, which uses advanced proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology, will be one of the largest hydrogen electrolysers of its kind when completed in 2021. The plant will be built by ITM Power and operated by Shell, producing 1,300 tonnes of hydrogen per year.
Shell is part of a consortium working to build a green hydrogen hub in Rotterdam. In July 2020, Shell and Eneco were awarded a tender for the 760 MW Hollandse Kust Noord offshore wind project in the North Sea. Plans are also underway to build a 200 MW electrolyser in the Port of Rotterdam, which if given the go-ahead, will produce green hydrogen for mobility while the surplus hydrogen can be deployed in our Pernis refinery, in the Port of Rotterdam.
In November 2020, Shell unveiled its first commercial hydrogen project in China. This infrastructure included a 20 MW hydrogen electrolyser which will see green hydrogen produced from abundant wind and solar resources in Hebei province. The joint venture with Zhangjiakou City will be used to support the development of hydrogen and clean energy in the region, as well as supply hydrogen refueling stations in Zhangjiakou, which is one of the co- hosts of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
Shell Hydrogen is helping to build the infrastructure needed for hydrogen to grow as a transport fuel. They are part of joint ventures and alliances that have built hydrogen filling stations for passenger cars in the USA (California), Canada, Germany and the UK and announced plans to build several stations in the Netherlands. In California, Shell is also developing filling stations for hydrogen trucks, in co-operation with Toyota, Kenworth, the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach
While many automakers are expanding their ranges with fully electric and hybrid vehicles to reduce global emissions, some automakers are exploring alternative fuel sources.
Hyundai, for example, is making a big push for hydrogen-powered vehicles. The Hyundai Nexo is the world’s first hydrogen-powered SUV.
BMW is convinced that hydrogen can make an important contribution to sustainable mobility alongside BEVs in the future provided the necessary hydrogen infrastructure is in place. The price of vehicles will need to fall and the price of hydrogen needs to be competitive with the existing fuel alternatives.
In those circumstances, hydrogen fuel cell cars can be the zero-emissions technology that allows users to maintain the flexible driving habits they are accustomed to. The Hydrogen Council sees hydrogen not only as a sustainable future means of propulsion for fuel cell vehicles, but also as a clean energy source for heating, electricity and industry.
BMW is one of a few automakers working with hydrogen fuel cell technology, having been researching it for over four decades, and has been collaborating on it with Toyota since 2013. The German automaker announced this week that it plans to field a hydrogen fuel-cell powered version of the BMW X5, dubbed I Hydrogen NEXT starting in 2022, and Toyota will provide the fuel cells for the production version of the X5.
Jaguar Land Rover is also developing a hydrogen fuel cell SUV as part of a £73.5 million ($91.2 million) government-funded scheme that aims to reduce carbon emissions the automotive sector.
French automotive group Renault and US-based Plug Power Inc will partner in the development and sale of hydrogen fuel cell-powered light commercial vehicles (LCVs) in Europe, targeting pilot fleet deployments in 2021. The JV will aim to seize an over 30% share of the European fuel cell-powered LCV market in Europe.
The France-based entity will set up an innovation centre to conduct research and development and will have a manufacturing centre in France, which will also provide hydrogen refueling systems. Research will be conducted based on Groupe Renault’s existing and future platforms and will initially target the heavy van segment. “With Plug Power, we will build a unique end-to-end fuel cell value chain and offer turnkey solutions for customers including vehicles, refuelling stations and decarbonized hydrogen delivery,” said Luca de Meo, CEO of Renault.