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Event Review: World Hydrogen Week

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Picture of Cyann Fielding

Cyann Fielding

Journalist at Tank Storage Magazine.

World Hydrogen Week took place in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, from 9-13 October 2023. Tank Storage Magazine is proud to be a media partner of a forward-thinking event that fosters discussion and collaboration, sharing insights into the ever-evolving world of hydrogen as a versatile and sustainable energy carrier.

Shedding light on the latest developments and future prospects in the hydrogen industry, the conference was full of innovative ideas, debates, information and more.

 

The green hydrogen revolution

While green hydrogen is the preferred option to decarbonise hard-to-electrify sectors, it remains more expensive to produce than blue hydrogen. Despite this, green hydrogen has gained significant traction as a key element in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Read more: Hydrogen Explainer

Whilst green hydrogen is yet to be well-established globally, projects are progressing worldwide, underpinning its potential to decarbonise various sectors, including heavy industry, transportation, and energy generation.

The challenges lie in defining prices, establishing incentives and making such projects financially viable.

Blue hydrogen is often considered to be cheaper due to the different production processes utilised.

Typically produced from natural gas through steam methane reforming, the process to produce blue hydrogen is well-established, mature and contains efficient technology. The infrastructure is already there too, removing the cost of establishing new infrastructure which would be needed to produce green hydrogen.

 

Technological advancements

World Hydrogen Week served as a platform to showcase technological advancements in hydrogen production, storage, and utilisation. Several companies and research institutions presented cutting-edge technologies, including advanced electrolysis methods, fuel cell innovations, and novel materials for hydrogen storage. For example, Gasunie unveiled its work towards a cleaner future in Europe and Uniper revealed its global advancements in the sector. The entire exhibition hall was a roadmap to the future of hydrogen production, utilisation and storage.

 

International collaboration

Although situated in the Netherlands, World Hydrogen Week brought hydrogen thinkers, innovators and experts together from across the globe. The event underscored the importance of international collaboration in advancing the hydrogen economy. Various countries and organisations shared their strategies and efforts to develop hydrogen as a global energy solution.

Key players such as Japan, Germany, and the European Union unveiled ambitious hydrogen roadmaps towards achieving climate goals. Cross-border partnerships and research initiatives were also discussed as a means to accelerate progress.

One particularly interesting discussion covered incentives. Multiple experts highlighted the urgent need for global, continental, and local incentives to help drive the transition towards hydrogen. They highlighted the lack of clarity and urgency from global and local governments. However, the USA’s Inflation Reduction Act was discussed as a highlight – with tax credits offered to companies meeting a base level of targets.

Read more: Inflation Reduction Act

For hydrogen to thrive as part of the energy transition, the industry first needs the foundations of a strict regulatory framework and financial and moral stimulants.

 

Hydrogen in transport

The role of hydrogen in transportation remained a prominent topic, with a particular focus on fuel-cell vehicles and hydrogen-powered aviation. Automotive manufacturers showcased their latest hydrogen-powered vehicles, emphasising their potential to decarbonise the transportation sector.

Hydrogen’s role in sustainable aviation was another topic. In Iceland, e-SAF has been favoured as a promising solution to reduce emissions in the aviation industry.

 

Challenges and opportunities

The conference sessions at World Hydrogen Week were clear on the challenges: the high cost of hydrogen production, the need for infrastructure development, and unclear policy. One key takeaway was that new infrastructure is needed, rather than old assets being repurposed.

For some, like IdunnH2’s project in Iceland, utilising groundwork and assets from previous projects allow for a head start in construction and production. But, for a lot of the industry, repurposing isn’t an option. Instead, new vessels, pipelines, land, and so on, are needed to be able to handle green hydrogen.

 

Hydrogen and the energy transition

The discussions at World Hydrogen Week highlighted the integral role hydrogen plays in the broader energy transition. It is viewed as a complementary solution to renewable energy sources, offering grid balancing and long-term energy storage capabilities. By coupling hydrogen production with renewables and incorporating it into existing energy systems, a more resilient and sustainable energy landscape can be achieved.

While challenges remain, the optimism surrounding hydrogen’s potential to decarbonise various sectors and contribute to a sustainable future is palpable. As the world strives to reduce carbon emissions and transition to a cleaner energy future, hydrogen’s role is becoming increasingly clear, making World Hydrogen Week an essential platform for all stakeholders in the hydrogen ecosystem.

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