Expert Ilyasov noted that thanks to the resources, the country can succeed in the formation of hydrogen energy.
Turkmenistan can become a leader in the production of «green» hydrogen and take a leading position in the formation of hydrogen energy. And that is obvious, since the global demand for traditional energy sources will start to fall in 2050, and Turkmenistan has a modern production infrastructure for the petrochemical industry and a huge resource potential. The topic was raised by Doctor of Technical Sciences Allaberdy Ilyasov in an interview to CentralAsia.news.
Clean and greenhouse gas-free technologies
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to preserve the climate is becoming a key goal for the world’s leading economies. Within the framework of commitments under the Paris Agreement, the United States and Japan plan to reduce emissions by 80 percent, and the European Union intends to achieve full carbon neutrality by 2050. The global trend has already led to the rapid development of renewable energy sources (RES). However, to keep the global average temperature rise below 1.5 degrees this century, further development of carbon-free technologies in energy and other industries is necessary.
The world is already shifting to a low-carbon trajectory of development: according to world experts, the demand for coal will begin to fall this decade, for oil in the next one, and gas, most likely, from 2040 to 2050. And then hydrogen will become a popular commodity. For example, in Sweden and Germany, metallurgical plants that will use hydrogen instead of coke as reducing agents are already being built. H2 is also useful in the chemical industry and in the home as a fuel cell.
To partially supply Germany with hydrogen, it is planned to put into operation equipment for its production by 2030 with a total capacity of up to 5 GW. For the period until 2035, at the latest, until 2040, another 5 GW is to be added to them. Germany is generally taking a course towards a hydrogen economy. The super task of such a strategy is to combine the further industrial development of the country and the protection of the global climate. The specific goal is to fulfill the commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and 2050, undertaken by Germany and the European Union under the Paris Climate Agreement.
Types of hydrogen gas
In the classification of hydrogen, the main criterion is its environmental friendliness. The more carbon oxides emitted during its production, the less environmentally friendly it will be considered. For simplicity, each «grade» is indicated by a color.
«Green» hydrogen is the most environmentally friendly, as it is obtained through electrolysis. If electricity comes from renewable energy sources (RES), such as wind, solar or hydropower, then there are no CO2 emissions.
«Yellow» («orange») hydrogen, like «green», is obtained by electrolysis. However, the source of energy is nuclear power plants (NPP). There are no CO2 emissions, but the method is not completely environmentally friendly.
«Turquoise» hydrogen is obtained by decomposition of methane into hydrogen and solid carbon by pyrolysis. The production of «turquoise» hydrogen produces relatively low carbon emissions that can either be buried or used in industry such as steel or batteries. Thus, it does not enter the atmosphere.
«Gray» hydrogen is produced with steam reforming of methane. The feedstock for this reaction is natural gas. This process is easy to carry out from a practical point of view, however, during the chemical reaction, carbon dioxide is released, moreover, in the same volumes as during the combustion of natural gas (energy is also consumed for conversion).
«Blue» hydrogen, obtained by steam reforming of methane, but on condition of capturing and storing carbon, which gives an approximately two-fold reduction in carbon emissions. This type of hydrogen production is very expensive.
To obtain «brown» hydrogen, brown coal is used as a feedstock. Further, with the help of gasification of brown coal, synthesis gas (syngas) is formed: a mixture of carbon dioxide (CO2), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen, methane and ethylene, as well as a small amount of other gases.
Considering the huge reserves of natural gas in Turkmenistan, an ecologically safe and highly technological way of producing «gray» hydrogen is the processing of natural gas through the reforming method.
However, green hydrogen plays a vital role in achieving deep decarbonization of the power system and can almost completely eliminate harmful emissions by using renewable energy — rapidly growing and often generated at less fortunate times — to power the electrolysis of water.
The advantage of clean ecology
None of the world experts doubt the prospects of the new global energy carrier. For example, according to BloombergNEF (BNEF) estimates, green hydrogen generated by electrolysis could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by up to 34 percent by 2050. And over the past five years, the cost of electrolysis technology has dropped 40 percent and continues to decline. Technology can make a major contribution to decarbonizing the most fossil fuel-dependent sectors of the economy, such as the chemical industry or transportation.
BNEF experts also predict that even before 2030, "green" hydrogen at a price of just over 2 dollars per kg will begin to compete with coal and natural gas as an energy source in steel production, and by 2050, at a price of 1 dollar per kg, it will become more profitable than gas in the world markets and will be able to compete with the cheapest coal, while ensuring zero CO2 emissions.
Due to "green" hydrogen, a kind of final electrification of the world industry will take place. It is noteworthy that for the storage and transportation of hydrogen, as well as for obtaining electricity and heat with it, there is the possibility of using the technologies and infrastructure of traditional gas generation.
Therefore, the large-scale use of hydrogen in the power industry will replace fossil fuels and significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the entire industry.
The advantages of green hydrogen
H2 is an important raw material for a variety of industrial processes and has been used extensively in industry for the past two centuries. So, one of the first internal combustion engines, which appeared at the beginning of the 20th century, ran on hydrogen. This gas was used to fill balloons and is used in the space industry. Now hydrogen is produced mainly for the needs of the chemical industry; without hydrogen, oil refining processes, production of ammonia and steel are impossible.
Green hydrogen can be used as a fuel to generate electricity and heat when needed by consumers. The economic feasibility of such a technical solution is already obvious, since with an increase in the share of renewable energy sources in many countries of the world there are phenomena of negative prices.
Electricity, as you know, is not yet able to be stored. This means that during periods of load decline, the generating capacity is idle. And at the moments of peak, if there are not enough of them, they may not cope with the load. Therefore, the increase in the share of renewable energy sources, the operation of which depends on weather conditions, made the task of balancing the energy system more complex.
The way to low carbon, green hydrogen
Hydrogen is not only the most abundant element in the universe, but also capable of delivering and storing enormous amounts of energy. Today, most hydrogen is produced using fossil fuels, with less than 0.7 percent coming from fossil-fueled power plants with carbon capture and storage systems or renewable energy sources.
The main disadvantage of energy based on fossil fuels is the emission of a huge, about 30 billion tons/year, amount of carbon dioxide, which is the main greenhouse gas that negatively affects the environment and is recognized by the world community as one of the main factors that surpasses all other anthropogenic factors in terms of its impact on the climate. It is comparable to powerful natural forces.
The path to low-carbon, green hydrogen is through electrolysis, which uses electricity from renewable sources to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen. The process requires a lot of electricity from renewable sources. If hydrogen is produced using electrolysis, then the question of energy sources for it in our country is not worth it - it can be wind and solar energy.
Solar and wind energy (considered climate-friendly energy sources) can be used to produce hydrogen. And the conversion of excess energy into hydrogen by electrolysis allows you to create a reserve of this gas, which can be stored for further use as a source of electricity as needed. This solution seems to be very effective, since hydrogen is a reliable source of energy and can be stored for a very long time.
Hydrogen energy and environmental concept
This gas remains almost unpopular, despite the fact that it is the most abundant element on Earth. However, gradually projects using hydrogen in the field of large and distributed energy, energy storage and all types of transport, from cars to airplanes and ships, are becoming serial. And the energy concept based on hydrogen energy can lead to a change in the way of power systems and the gradual formation of a common world energy market.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in the structure of hydrogen production, gas reforming accounts for 76 percent, coal pyrolysis 23 percent, and only 1 percent of hydrogen production is carried out by electrolysis of water based on renewable energy installations. As a result, the production of hydrogen by the electrolysis of water is dominant in the future.
Berdimuhamedov's efforts on developing hydrogen energy
Participating in a high-level UN Global Roundtable held in May this year, President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov proposed to start developing a UN Strategy aimed at implementing measures to develop low-carbon energy, as well as creating an international Roadmap for the development of hydrogen as one of the priority areas in the energy sector.
As the initiator of these proposals, the leader of Turkmenistan emphasized that the country is ready to start discussing ways and criteria for their implementation at the expert level in the near future.
Thus, the use of advanced technologies, a reduction in production costs, as well as effective incentive mechanisms can contribute to an increase in the importance of "green" hydrogen for decarbonization of the world economy.
Earlier, Allaberdy Ilyasov outlined the main prospects for the development of hydrogen energy. He described how the production of products of hydrogen affects economy. The analyst also focused on Berdimuhamedov's energy strategy.