Et tu H2? Can truly Green Hydrogen join Solar & Storage in overthrowing the Carbon Kings?

Jan. 13, 2022
The key themes for Intersolar-Energy Storage North America in the name, but Green Hydrogen took center stage for a time, too. There are many paths to decarbonization.

By Rod Walton, EnergyTech Senior Editor

LONG BEACH, California—The key themes at the first live Intersolar-Energy Storage North America in years are pretty easy to figure out, as they are self-evident in the name of the event. It’s about the PV panels and the batteries, silly.

Yet decarbonization is the ultimate goal so the #ISNAESNA conversations can go a lot of different directions. Hydrogen was the destination for a lot of attendees in Wednesday’s earlier workshop.

Janice Lin, who heads up the Green Hydrogen Coalition and Strategen, the company which help found Intersolar, is a huge believer that truly green H2 (electrolyzed from clean energy generation) will change the world. Hydrogen can be a baseload power generation resource, a part of the mix or provide energy storage, and it's integral in industrial and agricultural manufacturing.

The challenge, as with everything, is scaling up to make it economical and then predominant.

“It’s a chicken and egg thing,” Lin pointed out. “It’s not cheap.”

Today, according to U.S. DOE estimates, green hydrogen could cost about $6 per kilogram generated. At half that price, Lin pointed out, it could be a game changer.

The game is on now. Companies as varying as Orsted, Shell, Mitsubishi Power, Caterpillar, Panasonic, Cummins, Siemens Energy and many more are investing billions of dollars in hydrogen generation from low or no-carbon resources. It also can be produced from more carbon-intensive processes such as steam methane reforming with the resulting CO2 then captured and buried. The latter, of course, is not the goal here.

See EnergyTech's full coverage of Green Hydrogen projects Now and in the Future

Intermountain Power Agency is working with numerous partners to repower its Utah generation plant to gas-fired turbines utilizing a mix of H2 which will rise to 100 percent in coming decades, according to the plan.

Truly green hydrogen, though, is the Holy Grail, the interloper to finally take down the Carbon kings. Some attending the first-day Intersolar session believe that is decades away, if ever.

Others are seeing momentum which speaks of a much more accelerated revolution.

“I’m pretty bullish about demand,” said Nakul Prasad, Siemens Energy’s manager of corporate strategy around hydrogen. “Can we have enough renewables (in the field) to satisfy demand for green hydrogen?”

So while solar and energy storage are interlinked as partners in the microgrid and renewable resiliency equation, many others feel like hydrogen, once scaled and delivered, can ultimately solve the puzzle of how we get to a Net-Zero 2050.

Intersolar North America and Energy Storage North America run concurrently and co-located at the Long Beach Convention Center through Saturday.

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(Rod Walton, senior editor for EnergyTech, is a 14-year veteran of covering the energy industry both as a newspaper and trade journalist. He can reached at [email protected]).

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