No-Compromise Hydrogen, Part 4
This week, we conclude our ‘No-Compromise Hydrogen’ series by exploring the benefits of clean hydrogen. We started this series on February 14 (There’s Much to Love About Clean Hydrogen) with a reflection of the many benefits hydrogen can bring to society. Our article noted how planet-conscious companies are turning to hydrogen as the next big thing in sustainability. Specifically, we highlighted the words used by Shell’s CEO Ben Van Beurden to describe hydrogen at the World Economic Forum when he said, “The world of energy is transforming very, very fast. Hydrogen has massive potential.”
Hydrogen can help us get closer to a sustainable relationship between society and the environment.
Today, we close our ‘No-Compromise Hydrogen’ series by exploring what the benefits of that “massive potential” can be when it comes to sustainability.
What Exactly is “Dirty” about Carbon Emissions?
Last week, The Chicago Tribune ran an article on how climate change affects the Earth’s oceans, stating: “More than half the world’s oceans could suffer multiple symptoms of climate change over the next 15 years, including rising temperatures, acidification, lower oxygen levels, and decreasing food supplies, new research suggests.” The problem with our status quo, where a dominant portion of the energy we consume comes from hydrocarbons, is that they release CO2 when combusted. Whether the source is coal to produce electricity, gasoline to move a car, or the natural gas of a city bus, all that carbon goes into the air. People living in urban areas see some of the consequences of this combustion every day. The way it affects oceans, though, is not as evident to the everyday person.
The carbon particles in the air also fall into the oceans via precipitation. Carbon makes oceans absorb more sunlight, which warms the water, thereby, threatening entire species (such as those that thrive in coral reefs) with extinction. Animals and plants are not the only creatures threatened by carbon emissions. Warmer water occupies more volume through what is called Thermal Expansion, which results in rising sea levels. The sea is also rising due to land-based glaciers melting into the ocean at an increasing rate (check out how fast they are melting here). We are beginning to experience the effects of this as rising waters threaten millions of people who live in coastal cities or small islands. The Chicago Tribune article projects, “Under a business-as-usual climate scenario, the researchers found an alarming portion of the ocean will be affected by changes in multiple drivers at once. By 2030, they projected, 55 percent of the world’s oceans will experience changes in more than one of these factors—temperature and pH, most commonly—beyond the range of natural variability. By 2050, this number rises to 86 percent.”
So ‘dirty’ means more than just smog. Dirty means warmer atmosphere and warmer oceans that affect the quality of life for people and every creature on our planet.
Clean Fuels do not Warm our Planet
Alternative sources of energy already in place, such as solar and wind, are clean not just because they do not pollute. They are clean because they do not result in CO2 emissions that warm our planet. Even places that we strongly associate with hydrocarbons realize the importance of reducing carbon into our air and oceans. In fact, some of the biggest fossil-fuel-producing regions in the world—such as Texas or Norway—are also some of the places with more wind turbines in operation.
Clean hydrogen has a big role in helping to create a sustainable balance for our planet. Hydrogen produces water vapor when combusted, not carbon. On the production side, innovative technologies, such as Hydrogen 2.0, will help us produce it with zero carbon emissions as well. Clean hydrogen can make alternative energies, such as wind and solar, work more efficiently by eliminating the problem of variability these two sources have. Variability simply means that solar produces no energy when the sun is not shining, and wind turbines do not move when the wind is calm.
Hydrogen can also help clean oil and gas. Hydrogen 2.0, for example, can be used in the future to manufacture synthetic gasoline or to enrich hydrocarbon-based fuels to make them burn cleaner, with fewer carbon emissions.
The Era of Sustainable Energy is Here
As much as we’re biased by our work on hydrogen energy innovation, we do not believe there is strictly just an era of hydrogen upon us. More likely, there is an era of abundant clean energy sources upon us, in which sustainable hydrogen will play an increasingly vital role.
This article closes our series on ‘No-Compromise Hydrogen,’ where we explored the three components of the sustainable hydrogen formula, including:
The positive impact for a balanced coexistence between our economies and our planet is possible. We’re entering an era where the smart use of available resources to bring clean energy to all without compromise is no longer just a distant goal. Continued innovation in hydrogen technology will help to ensure the number one element has a prominent seat at this table.
As the Hydrogen 2.0 ecosystem gains momentum, we’ll be sharing our views and insights on the new Hydrogen 2.0 Economy. We also update our blog every week with insightful and current knowledge in this growing energy field.