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ISSN 2753-7757 (Online)

Sky-high gas prices encourage clean hydrogen as a decarbonisation tool for industry

16/11/2022

5 min read

Aerial view of Shell Rheinland refinery, Cologne, Germany Photo: Shell/Joachim Rieger
Aerial view of Shell Rheinland refinery, Colgne, Germany

Photo: Shell/Joachim Rieger

The ongoing energy crisis and its unprecedented high wholesale gas prices have been a major burden for Europe’s fossil fuel-intensive industrial sector, but they have also brightened the case for investing in clean hydrogen as an alternative and greener feedstock. Energy journalist Karolin Schaps investigates the role green hydrogen is playing in Europe’s industry.

Europe’s manufacturing sector accounts for around 20% of its greenhouse gas emissions, making it one of the most polluting segments of the European Union’s (EU) €14.5tn economy. EU and national climate change targets and growing momentum behind individual industrial companies’ own net zero goals have unleashed a major industrial decarbonisation movement that keeps gathering pace.

 

Clean hydrogen – produced via electrolysis using renewable energy – is increasingly seen as an attractive low carbon feedstock for industrial manufacturing where direct green electrification is not applicable. Not only because it’s a climate-friendly solution but, more recently, also because costs for producing hydrogen from natural gas – as the vast majority of hydrogen is – have become eye-wateringly high.

 

‘Indirect electrification via fossil-free hydrogen can play a vital, key role in the decarbonisation of hard-to-abate sectors like aviation, plastics and steel,’ says Mikael Nordlander, Director for Industry Decarbonisation at Swedish utility Vattenfall. ‘That’s where the heavy emissions are and also the potential business cases – it’s a win win.’

 

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