The United Kingdom would need 75,000 MW of offshore wind energy to achieve net-zero emission by 2050. Such a sizeable intermittent power generation capacity could be stabilized with hydrogen generated from ocean water that will also create 120,000 additional jobs, a study indicated.
Electricity generated from offshore wind projects can be used to produce hydrogen by electrolyzing seawater. Hydrogen can be transported through pipelines and stored to produce more electricity later when renewable power generation dips. Hydrogen can also be used in industrial heating applications and transport. It could be one of the least-cost pathways to reducing carbon emissions.
The study looked at the viability, and economic opportunities, of combining offshore wind with hydrogen, through electrolysis, in the U.K. The model suggested for the U.K was prepared jointly by the Offshore Wind Industry Council (OWIC) and Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult and delivered by ORE Catapult.
India, with a vast coastline of 7,516.5 km from Gujarat to West Bengal, could adopt similar models to stabilize renewable power generation and solve electricity storage issues. It could also be an avenue for job creation.
According to a recent report by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), for India to guarantee its role as a technology leader in the next phase of the energy transition, it will need to significantly increase activity across the public and private sectors to develop a hydrogen economy.
“This is an opportunity for India to expand on the successes seen in the defense and pharmaceutical sectors, to commit strategic resources to deliver breakthroughs for hydrogen technologies, yielding significant benefits for the Indian economy,” the study mentions. “Only through mass manufacture and deployment of hydrogen technologies at scale will we see cost reductions where hydrogen can start to displace significant amounts of fossil fuel use, without government subsidy.”
Various institutions in the U.K., including the Energy Systems Catapult, Imperial College London, Committee on Climate Change, and others, have suggested that the country’s hydrogen requirement ranges from 130 TWh to over 200 TWh per year. A green hydrogen economy using 130 TWh of hydrogen would require the annual output of 40 GW of offshore wind.
The U.K. model predicts the cost of green hydrogen generated from offshore wind to be less than hydrogen produced from natural gas by 2050.
In lines with TERI’s recommendation, the study for the U.K. also suggests a more rapid cost reduction for blue hydrogen generation technology leading to a cost advantage. Volatility in natural gas prices in both India and the U.K. could act in favor of blue hydrogen.
Costs are likely to decline rapidly by 2030, driven in part by the continued cost reduction of offshore wind generation cost.
For both India and the U.K., the period from 2020-2030 is therefore critical for ensuring a steady growth of a hydrogen economy that can integrate increasing amounts of offshore wind, on the path to 2050, and for securing the substantial economic benefit that can flow from green hydrogen.
Recently, Union Power Minister R.K. Singh said that the government was thinking of coming up with a plan to invite bids for an innovative program that would involve generating solar power, which would then be used to generate hydrogen. The hydrogen produced would then power a city’s public transport. He noted that the only requirement of the bid would be that the per kilometer cost of the transportation should be less than diesel-driven buses.
Debjoy Sengupta is a Senior Assistant Editor at Mercom. Debjoy brings more than two decades of experience in frontline journalism, spending most of his career working for dailies like Business Standard and The Economic Times. He has reported on a vast array of sectors, including power and renewables. A graduate in business economics, Debjoy is an amateur 3D digital artist and a photographer. More articles from Debjoy Sengupta.