Now more than ever, energy policy discussions are taking center stage in the United States and Europe.
As countries explore phasing out their reliance on fossil fuels and embracing the use of renewable energy sources in heating buildings, innovative communities are looking to explore alternatives.
Hydrogen is gaining a lot of attention primarily because it is a low-carbon, energy-dense gas that does not emit greenhouse gas emissions.
Hydrogen will play a significant role in the technology of future energy systems. But equally, existing building heat systems can be adapted to take advantage of some of hydrogen’s unique benefits.
Embracing hydrogen will help decarbonize one of the world’s most challenging sectors, impacting the wider industry, including renewable energy restrictions and electrical energy prices.
The EU Hydrogen Strategy for a Climate-Neutral Europe
The European Commission aims to make Europe the first place where hydrogen is used as an energy carrier. As part of this strategy, the Commission is targeting a European hydrogen ecosystem by 2050.
Similarly, several major global economies have released domestic hydrogen strategies. These countries include South Korea, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan, Spain, Chile, France, and the UK.
In the US, the US Department of Energy released the Hydrogen Program Plan in 2020. The National Development and Reform Commission in China also has documented a plan to implement hydrogen into their energy infrastructure by 2035.
Other economies, such as Saudi Arabia, consider hydrogen production part of their de-carbonization strategy.
There is also a significant shift towards green and low-carbon hydrogen, which is understandable. Clean hydrogen is an economically viable option because of the declining costs of electrolyzers and renewable energy and the new availability of clean pyrolysis technologies that split hydrogen from methane with no CO2.
If the world could produce green hydrogen within its current energy system globally, we could cut all carbon emissions. We could also increase the efficiency and resilience of our energy systems.
With distributed pyrolysis of methane, this can be achieved by leveraging existing natural gas infrastructure. This has the added benefit of removing the challenges of storage and transportation of hydrogen.
How Can Hydrogen Be Transported?
Hydrogen can be transported in several forms. It can be transported in thermo-insulated containers in liquid form. In gaseous form, it needs to be transported in high-pressure containers. It can be transported as ammonia, ethanol, or another chemical carrier medium like methane in a processed form.
However, when looking at transportation at scale, the most viable method of transporting hydrogen is through a pipeline. It’s not only easier, but it also achieves an optimum energy transportation capacity.
Unfortunately, using a pipeline to transport hydrogen has significant capital cost implications. Existing pipeline infrastructure would need to be overhauled and adapted for hydrogen transportation.
With cost-effective strategies in place, the cost of initial pipeline investment can be spread into long-term savings that far outweigh the initial outlay.
A common question among experts is whether or not centrally produced hydrogen can be transported in gas infrastructure. In other words, are existing pipelines compatible with hydrogen transportation, and will there be a need for any changes?
Often a comparison of methane and hydrogen is made. Methane has three times the calorific heating value of hydrogen. Also, hydrogen’s pressure and flow velocity can be much greater than methane’s.
Consequently, a pipeline can convey three times more hydrogen than methane at any given time under the same pressure while maintaining the transportation capacity.
Pipeline integrity is another consideration. Natural gas pipelines tend to be made of steel and iron. The quality and age of the building will determine if the infrastructure can be used for hydrogen transportation.
Hydrogen has been known to cause embrittlement,, particularly in pipelines with seams. This encourages the formation of cracks and reduces the lifespan of the pipes. Pipes likely to be most affected by exposure to hydrogen are those most likely to be exposed to subject to fluctuating internal pressures.
Can Hydrogen Be Used for Heating Buildings?
Using hydrogen to manage building heating requirements is possible today when blended with natural gas. Some experts foresee challenges to widespread near-term adoption of high concentration H2.
To produce and burn enough hydrogen to heat a building requires generating more electricity than simply heating a building with electric heat pumps.
Consequently, producing green hydrogen to meet the current heating demands of buildings would require more energy flow of clean electricity.
This problem can be resolved by generating clean hydrogen via continuous combustion pyrolysis that does not require electricity.
Most experts believe that eating appliances will need to be replaced or upgraded. when hydrogen is used exclusively to heat buildings Since hydrogen water heaters, water boilers, and furnaces do not yet have a solid foothold in the residential heating market, it will be difficult for hydrogen to capture the marketplace until equipment OEMs adopt hydrogen-compatible technologies fully.
Blending hydrogen with synthetic or biomethane has practical challenges but blends easily with standard, pipeline-quality natural gas.
Integrating hydrogen into building operations is the future of building heating, but there are challenges to overcome.
Modern Electron has embraced this challenge. We have developed next-generation technologies that convert natural gas to clean hydrogen for building heating and power generation without CO2 emissions. Our technology can ensure that hundreds of millions of commercial and residential buildings heat more efficiently and sustainably without burdening our fragile electrical grid. Modern Electron is a driving force behind readily accessible and costs effective hydrogen for a zero-carbon future.