Sun Hydrogen- Outlook of Hydrogen

Goals

To provide the future of hydrogen power plants, with a focus on regions, displacement of fossil fuels, or any other relevant details.

Early Findings

Results of Initial Research

  • This initial hour assessed the viability of information and what was available. As this is a fuel source that is still considered in its infancy, predictions are based on assumptions and suggestions. The areas that were discussed the most were the multiple ways to obtain hydrogen, the challenges of hydrogen becoming a mainstream fuel source, and countries that are excelling at hydrogen extraction.

Hydrogen Outlook- Overview

  • According to a report by Congressional Research Service, Hydrogen is electricty's future. The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) describes hydrogen as an “energy carrier,” as it allows the transport of energy that can be later converted to other forms of useful energy.
  • Due to its high energy content and clean-burning properties, hydrogen is being investigated for its potential to replace or reduce the use of fossil fuels and to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
  • 95% of US Hydrogen comes from steam-methane-reforming (SMR). Coal is another potential source of hydrogen.
  • The United States currently produces about nine million tons of hydrogen per year. This hydrogen is used primarily in industrial processes including petroleum refining, petrochemical manufacturing, glass purification, and in fertilizers. Only small fraction of this is used as an energy carrier.

The Appeal of Hydrogen

  • Hydrogen is the simplest and one of the most abundant compounds on earth.
  • Hydrogen (with an energy density of about 142 megajoules per kilogram (MJ/kg))4 also has one of the highest energy density values per unit of mass, containing more than three times the energy of most hydrocarbon fuels.
  • Hydrogen gas is highly flammable, requiring a small amount of energy to ignite and burn, and when hydrogen is burned with oxygen, it burns cleanly with the only by-products being heat and water.

Hydrogen Production

  • The major hydrogen-producing states are California, Louisiana, and Texas.
  • The primary challenge for hydrogen production is reducing the cost of production technologies to make the resulting hydrogen cost competitive with conventional transportation fuels.
  • Production of hydrogen is responsible for CO2 emissions of around 830 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to the CO2 emissions of the United Kingdom and Indonesia combined.

Demand

  • Demand for hydrogen, which has grown more than threefold since 1975, continues to rise almost entirely supplied from fossil fuels, with 6% of global natural gas and 2% of global coal going to hydrogen production.

Challenges

  • Producing hydrogen is currently a costly process.
  • The development of hydrogen infrastructure is slow and holding back widespread adoption.
  • Hydrogen is almost entirely supplied from natural gas and coal today.
  • Regulations currently limit the development of a clean hydrogen industry.

Uses

  • Some of the best uses for hydrogen are in steel production, transportation, and industrial heat. While using hydrogen for steel is still in development, it has the capability to have the most impact out of any uses in terms of decarbonization.

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