Green Hydrogen: Leading Player in the NetZero Game?

The coming hydrogen revolution will have a significant impact on the Built Environment. With interest in green energy technologies soaring rapidly over recent years, Sanjana, a construction engineer turned social media analyst at Hloov, explores this highly sustainable energy technology.

May 3, 2022
A large white balloon in a field

Hydrogen clear energy Ecological future Alternative concept

Hydrogen's history with energy is long and storied. It was first used in the internal combustion engine, which led to its propagation as an emissions-free fuel for cars over 200 years ago – but that was not all! H2 is light, storable, energy-dense, and does not directly produce any pollutants or greenhouse gases. That is precisely what the world needs right now, right? But for hydrogen to make a considerable impact to clean energy transitions, we must embrace its use in sectors where it is almost entirely non-existent, such as the built environment, transport, and power generation.

With Bloomberg predicting that hydrogen could meet up to 24% of the world’s energy needs by 2050, green hydrogen being named among this year’s top 10 “most exciting technologies" in 2020-21, it shows how many nations around earth value its sustainability. It also gives us an opportunity for industries that want no emission payments while impacting our environment! If we reach the NetZero target before then, there will be little chance left on Earth, so getting these goals will mean everything. If you are willing to ask, why not start now?

Hydrogen: Colorful and Everywhere

A person in a pool with yellow flowers
Hydrogen colors Abstract background

Hydrogen is the lightest element in existence, with an abundance found throughout our universe. There are many colors of this gas - each referring to how it is produced- although naming conventions vary across countries and over time!

  • Gray Hydrogen: Traditionally produced from methane (CH4), split with steam into CO2 – the main culprit for climate change – and H2, hydrogen. Grey hydrogen has increasingly been produced from coal, with significantly higher CO2 emissions per hydrogen unit produced.
  • Blue Hydrogen: Blue hydrogen follows the same process as grey. The other technologies are necessary to capture the CO2 produced when hydrogen is split from methane (or from coal) and stored for a long term. It removes up to 90% of the greenhouse gas emissions via carbon-capture technology.
  • Green Hydrogen: The process for green hydrogen uses carbon-free sources. The process is called electrolysis, where renewable energy is used to power the process, by which the water is split into hydrogen and oxygen. The use of low-cost, minimum carbon sources and CO2 emission-free production methods makes it ‘Green Hydrogen.’

Key to a Sustainable Future

The transport sector is not the only one with something to gain from a shift to green hydrogen. The built environment sector accounts for nearly 40% of global energy use and approximately 40% of greenhouse gas emissions. So, this industry has an immense responsibility for climate change.

In the construction industry, by far, one of the most significant issues is emissions released during production. 7% comes from cement and 8% from steel-making processes which can be reduced using green hydrogen instead of fossil fuels in the carbon-intensive industrial processes.

A metal sculpture in a garden
Flowerdome garden and greenhouse forest landmark of Singapore city

The good news is that the application possibilities for hydrogen in buildings are vast!

  • Heating: Hydrogen can be used as a clean-burning alternative to natural gas.
  • Power: It can potentially replace electricity generated from fossil fuels in the future.
  • Cooling: Hydrogen is increasingly being applied in this sector, too! Many buildings use large amounts of cooling.
  • More…

Overall, green hydrogen has a significant role in the clean energy transition. Whether through its use in transport or buildings and construction, this incredible fuel offers us a way forward as we face the challenges of climate change. I believe that green hydrogen will be an integral part of our future energy mix with continued research and development!

Shifting our approach to building design and operation to incorporate hydrogen will significantly affect our emissions and energy usage. While there are many challenges ahead, we must continue excavation into this renewable energy source at present. Not only does it offer cleaner alternatives, but with further development, green hydrogen could become considerably more accessible for everyday use – making it a leading player in the NetZero game!

Renewable Energy Transition's Best Pal

One of the main obstacles to the broader adoption of this fantastic fuel has been the cost. Creating it via electrolysis is currently quite expensive, but with continued research and development in the area, that cost is dropping rapidly.

A river with a bridge and trees
Hydropower Plant on Solina Lake in Poland.

Hydrogen is clean, renewable energy that might be the answer we have been looking for. It has many benefits in reducing pollution in our cities and environment and making buildings more sustainable! With costs expected to be below $2 per kilogram by 2030 (which will make them competitive with fossil fuels), organizations across all sectors can start investing now, so they do not miss out on this fantastic opportunity.

Hloov empowers people to Reimagine the built environment to reduce its environmental impact to sustain the present and future needs. I feel green hydrogen could be the right solution to guide the world towards a sustainable & resilient future. With its living digital twins’ platform – Tagwaye, Built Environment stakeholders can leverage data science to define, doubt, and decide confidently for people, the planet, and the prosperity of all.

Conclusion

The global crisis has prompted the government and industry leaders to take a new look at how they are doing in protecting our planet. With a 24% chance of providing our energy needs with green hydrogen, there is no doubt that we can rely on this clean and sustainable form for much longer. We all know that "CHANGE" is complex but not impossible. I believe the transition to green hydrogen will be a huge challenge in today's world, where we are seeking sustainable energy solutions for our future needs. However, this broad spectrum of areas where it could contribute towards decarbonizing buildings means there will still be plenty of investment-driven toward these developments!

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