Green hydrogen could compete with LNG in a decade

THE cost of clean hydrogen will fall to that of LNG in a decade as global efforts to replace fossil fuels accelerate, Thomas Baudlot, CEO of energy solutions for Asia-Pacific at French utility Engie SA said yesterday in an interview.

Tim Daiss
Green hydrogen could compete with LNG in a decade


"Green hydrogen today is not economically competitive against alternative energy sources, which will not be the case in 10 years' time," he said. The fuel is "very much part of the strategy of Engie."  Engie is Europe's largest operator of gas infrastructure,

Interest in hydrogen, which is considered green if it is made using electricity from renewable sources such as wind and solar, is rapidly growing amid a global effort to cut dependence on coal and natural gas, which intensified after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February curbed fuel supplies and increased prices, a BNN Bloomberg report said.

Blue hydrogen, for its part, is produced using fossil fuel sources, where carbon emissions are captured and stored (CCS). Hydrogen produced by burning fossil fuels without utilizing CCS technologies is often referred to as "brown hydrogen." China is the world's largest hydrogen producer, but it's brown hydrogen and mostly used in the industrial sector. 

While clean technology is still in its early stages, 35 countries have a hydrogen plan and 17 are preparing one, helping reduce the cost of the electrolyzers needed to produce the fuel, the BNN Bloomberg report added.

Most of the push to develop green hydrogen infrastructure has been in developed countries, notably European states, Japan and South Korea, with other regions like Africa and Southeast Asia falling behind, largely due its hefty price tag.

The global energy crisis is accelerating demand in Asia for renewable energy however to replace fossil fuels. Part of Engie's Asia expansion will include marketing green hydrogen to customers, with Australia serving as the region's production hub.

"We used to call our clients," Baudlot said. "Nowadays the clients call us. And they want to go faster and bigger."

Last month, Engie made an FID in the development of one of the world's first industrial-scale renewable hydrogen projects, to be located in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, the company announced in a press release on its website.

Scheduled for completion in 2024, the first phase of the Yuri project will produce up to 640 tonnes of renewable hydrogen per year as a zero carbon feedstock for Yara Australia's ammonia production facility in Karratha.

Liquefying hydrogen presents a "dilemma" because it requires vast amounts of energy, Baudlot added. The process is expensive and consumes more than 30% of the energy content of the fuel, according to US DOE estimates. The fuel is also less dense than LNG, so transporting it at scale would require creating new fleets of ships, infrastructure and technology.

Due to these restraints BloombergNEF expects the cost of liquefying and transporting green hydrogen from Australia to Japan by the end of the decade to be around $30/MMBtu. That's nearly triple the price of a similar shipment of LNG under a long-term contract from an Australian export facility though not far off current spot rates. 

"We can't afford to rule it out," Baudlot said. "It's important to invest into all mediums. And once those are more advanced, natural selection will happen."



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