More than any other substance on Earth, hydrogen, especially if it is generated from renewable sources, holds tremendous potential to help us decarbonize the global economy, reach our climate goals, improve the reliability and resilience of our energy systems and launch new, sustainable business models.
Depending on the method of production, it is just about the only fuel that comes with a color scheme. While grey hydrogen is mainly generated from natural gas via a process called steam methane reforming (SMR), blue hydrogen is produced by carbon capture. Both processes are far from carbon-neutral.
This is why the attention is focused currently on producing the two more sutainable varieties of hydrogen: The carbon-neutral ‘blue-green” biohydrogen - using SMR, but with biofeedstocks. If you add carbon capture, this type of H2 even carbon-negative. Green hydrogen is generated using water electrolysis and energy from renewable sources.
Green, blue, gray - all forms of hydrogen will play a role as the industry scales up to meet the growing demand. While green is a goal, there is a dynamic mix of technological approaches and processes involving all colors of hydrogen in play while the industry takes shape. This includes Carbon Capture Technology (CCU), among others. ABB is committed to helping all customers transition to a less carbon-intensive future with the needed technology to enable this transition.
The perfect fuel
What makes hydrogen perfect to power the post-carbon economy? For one, if used directly as a fuel, it emits exactly zero CO2 and produces almost no other air pollutants in the process. It doesn’t get much cleaner than that. The simplest, most abundant element in the universe can also be used to store and transport energy generated from renewable sources - either as a gas or a liquid - so that they can be used when the wind doesn’t blow or the Sun doesn’t shine.
Another plus for H2 is that the technology needed to produce it in all of its color varieties is already in place - as are dedicated pipelines.
As the development of electrolysers for the production of green hydrogen is ramping up quickly from the megawatt to the gigawatt scale, so is the exploration of transporting all types of H2 via existing and refurbished gas pipelines.
The beginnings of a new hydrogen value chain are grounded in proven technology. The scale-up of these technologies is key, as is the development of new end-use technology that will further expand and drive H2 use.