Energy use and conversion

Green hydrogen production

The hydrogen economy is on the rise, and DNV expects global demand for hydrogen as an energy carrier to grow from practically zero in 2019 to 24 EJ/ yr in 2050.

Uptake will mainly be in the manufacturing and transport sectors, adding to the continued non-energy uses of hydrogen such as fertiliser and feedstock. Our upcoming ETO 2021 include carbon price sensitivity affecting the use of hydrogen, which leads to a further increase in demand.

In this chapter, DNV's Technology Progress Report covers: 

  • Types of green hydrogen
  • Developments
  • Green hydrogen's uphill battle

DNV perspective

Green hydrogen one of the key roads to decarbonization. In the coming decade we see increasing cost competitiveness for green hydrogen from electrolysis by improving efficiency and decreasing capex. In areas with abundant renewable resources and low-priced electricity, the costs of green hydrogen will drop even further.

DNV is involved in some projects in Latin America and Africa where we already see green hydrogen production costs in the range of 2-3 USD/kg using solar PV. This will further encourage a global green hydrogen import/export market. Hydrogen produced in areas with inexpensive renewable energy could be converted to a liquid, ammonia, methanol, or Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carriers (LOHC), and transported to, for example Europe, where inexpensive PV is less abundant, and converted back to hydrogen or used as a carrier directly. 

Alkaline Electrolysis (AE) and Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) are the most developed hydrogen technologies, but Solid Oxide Electrolysis (SOE) and Anion Exchange Membrane (AEM) may yet have a future. A role for all four technologies could be expected in different application areas. SOE will likely be applied in combination with a stable power supply, integrated with other processes in ammonia and synthetic fuel production, and possibly in reverse operation to convert hydrogen back into electricity. 

Successful development of AEM could allow the technology to join AE and PEM in applications across many sectors. Here electrolysis plants could be built onshore either as large centralized plants towards GW scale, or small and decentralized plants to supply local demand, in mobility for example. We might also see electrolysis offshore on (artificial) islands, platforms, or even integrated into wind turbines. Large wind farm operators are currently assessing the possibilities of integrating hydrogen with offshore wind. This introduces a whole new level of challenges and design concepts where systems need to be compact, highly reliable in offshore environments, and even more suitable for remote operation. In addition, fast-responding electrolyzers like pressurized AE, PEM, and possibly AEM can offer grid services to assure stable voltage and frequency levels.

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