Multinational Group Advocates for Hydrogen as Next Top Fuel, Energy Storage Source

Over a dozen leading multinational companies have teamed up to promote the use of hydrogen as a clean fuel and an energy storage material, according to a January 18 report by the Phys.Org News Service.

Convened on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, the first Hydrogen Council was dedicated to helping achieve the ambitious goal of reaching the 2 degrees Celsius target as agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

The international slate of companies currently involved  in the council comprises: Air Liquide, Alstom, Anglo American, BMW GROUP, Daimler, ENGIE, Honda, Hyundai Motor, Kawasaki, Royal Dutch Shell, The Linde Group, Total, and Toyota. The council is led by co-chairs from different geographies and sectors, currently represented by Air Liquid (France) and Toyota (Japan).

“The Hydrogen Council brings together some of the world’s leading industrial, automotive and energy companies with a clear ambition to explain why hydrogen emerges among the key solutions for the energy transition, in the mobility as well as in the power, industrial, and residential sectors; and therefore requires the development of new strategies at a scale to support this,: said Air Liquide CEO Benoît Potier.

“But we cannot do it alone,” he noted. “We need governments to back hydrogen with actions of their own – for example through large-scale infrastructure investment schemes. Our call today to world leaders is to commit to hydrogen so that we can meet our shared climate ambitions and give further traction to the emerging hydrogen ecosystem.”

An energy storage alternative

Scientists have long pursued the use of electric fuel cells for cars that use hydrogen – the lightest element with the atomic number 1 – as the byproduct of its combustion is water and not gases that cause climate change, according to the Phys.Org report.

However, those participating in the Hydrogen Council insist the applications for hydrogen go beyond fuel cells for cars, the news outlet said.

One of the major challenges for renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind is storing the energy produced if it cannot be used immediately.

Besides building expensive mega-batteries, current options include pumping water up to reservoirs to produce hydro power when energy is needed. Fuel cell technology, used in reverse, could help resolve this problem.

“If you take this solar electricity you don’t know what to do with, you electrolyze water, this makes hydrogen, which is a gas you can put in the natural gas network,” Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne said. ”This not only makes use of the surplus electricity, but it also makes investment in solar and wind projects more profitable.”

In particular, the firms will share data and research to make hydrogen technologies profitable, as well working on international standards to help speed their adoption.

“If we manage to reduce costs all along the production chain, then hydrogen will become a solution for moving energy where it is needed,” Engie’s Chief Didier Holleaux said, according to Phys.Org.

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