Enel Green Power is betting on green hydrogen to speed up the energy transition
With its limits and potential, green hydrogen plays a key role in the energy transition, contributing to the spread of renewables and the decarbonization of “hard to abate” industries.
According to data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), it is expected that, by 2050, 6% of the world's end energy consumption could be linked to hydrogen. Unlike other fuels with a strong impact on our planet, hydrogen has a very high energy capacity. Just think that, by weight, it contains almost three times the energy content of natural gas, and its combustion does not involve any CO2 emissions, generating only water vapor.
Hydrogen presents a wide range of potential applications. Not only can it be used as a “clean” fuel, but it can also boost the growth of green energy. A solar or wind plant combined with an electrolyzer can provide grid services similar to those of a renewable plant combined with a battery. With the increased spread of renewables, flexible generation will be necessary and a renewable plant combined with an electrolyzer, besides producing hydrogen, is much more flexible than an autonomous plant.
Although it’s not an alternative to electrification, which remains the most cost-effective and simple way to decarbonize large portions of total end energy consumption, green hydrogen is a complement to this process, and one of the most promising, affordable and sustainable energy solutions to lower the emissions of hard to abate industries. To achieve climate neutrality by 2050, the decarbonization of industries that depend on fossil fuels is what will really make a difference.
Also, as long as it is produced within a nation’s borders, green hydrogen can reduce a country’s dependency on imported fossil fuels. With the creation of a new value chain, it can lead to positive social impacts in the form of new job opportunities.
There are still open questions about the large amount of energy used in the production of renewable hydrogen, the availability of large-scale storage technologies and the high cost of transport. But the spread of renewables, the increased production of electrolyzers and the related economies of scale, also created through technological evolution, could pave the way for this element. According to Enel’s estimates, it will be very competitive within 5 years.
In the current situation, therefore, hydrogen would allow us to take another step forward toward climate neutrality, provided that it is produced with renewable sources.