Energy Insights & Savings

Green Hydrogen: The Clean Fuel of the Future?

Green hydrogen is called the “fuel of the future” by many, but what exactly is green hydrogen, and how might it transform our energy landscape, especially for rural communities and the broader economy?

Understanding Green Hydrogen

Hydrogen itself can be a fuel capable of being burned in combustion engines that create tiny explosions to turn a crank that can spin the wheels of a car or truck or the propeller of a ship. The exciting thing about hydrogen is that its only emission is water vapor, making it much cleaner to burn than fossil fuels.

Hydrogen is also the most abundant element in the universe. However, on Earth, we usually produce it through electrolysis, which uses electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. When the electricity used to isolate hydrogen in this manner comes from renewable sources like wind or solar the hydrogen produced is called “green” because neither does its production nor does its combustion emit carbon dioxide pollution.

The Promise of Green Hydrogen & Hydrogen Hubs

If the potential of green hydrogen is to be realized, infrastructure development is crucial. Hydrogen hubs are centralized locations where hydrogen is produced, stored, and distributed. The U.S. government is currently awarding $8 Billion to catalyze the development of several hubs across the country. These hubs have potential to bring significant economic benefits, including:

  1. Job Creation: Developing hydrogen infrastructure requires skilled labor, creating jobs in construction, maintenance, and operations. 
  2. Investment in Rural Areas: Hydrogen hubs, particularly those focused on green hydrogen, are often ideally  situated in rural areas where renewable energy sources like wind and solar are plentiful.
  3. Utilizing Existing Infrastructure: Many of the pipelines and storage facilities used for natural gas can potentially be repurposed for hydrogen, reducing the need for entirely new infrastructure. This can facilitate a smoother transition for the oil and gas industry.
  4. New Market Opportunities: As the demand for clean energy grows, companies involved in the production and distribution of hydrogen will be well-positioned to capitalize on new market opportunities. This can ensure the continued relevance and profitability of the energy sector.

Challenges and Considerations

While the potential of green hydrogen is promising, two initial challenges must be addressed:

  1. Cost: Currently, producing green hydrogen is more expensive than producing fuel from fossil sources.
  2. Infrastructure Development: Significant investment is needed to develop the infrastructure required for a hydrogen economy. This includes production facilities, storage systems, and distribution networks.

The Road Ahead

Green hydrogen holds the promise of a cleaner energy future where heavy industry like steel and concrete, as well as shipping can fully power up without creating pollution. For rural communities, the development of hydrogen hubs can bring economic revitalization and new job opportunities. For the oil and gas industry, it offers a pathway to transition towards greener practices while leveraging existing infrastructure. The promise appears worth the ongoing effort and investment to develop green hydrogen as one clean fuel for the future.