JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The European Commission this week took firm steps to again boost green hydrogen production and electrolyser manufacture amid sharply rising consumption targets.
The green hydrogen needed is produced by electrolysis using renewable energy sources and the process splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, without any greenhouse gas emission.
The commission’s latest RePowerEU proposals include the raising of its 2030 renewable hydrogen consumption targets for industry to 75%, and doubling the renewable hydrogen target for transport to 5%.
This follows the commission’s amplification in March of its green hydrogen production ambitions that target outputs of:
- ten-million tons of renewable hydrogen domestically; and
- another ten-million tons of yearly importation of renewable hydrogen from countries that could include South Africa.
Why South Africa is regarded as being so ideal for green hydrogen production, a field in which many are saying it could become a global player, is that the country ranks in the top ten sunniest countries in the world, placing it well to produce renewable energy from photovoltaics and from wind.
In addition, South Africa has a significant resource and reserve base of platinum group metals, which are used in fuel cell technology and in proton exchange membrane electrolysers. Based on South Africa's experience using the Fischer-Tropsch technology through Sasol, this country possesses extensive grey hydrogen know-how as a producer of 2% of global grey hydrogen production. In the mining sector, it also has large volumes of on-site water required for hydrolysis.
According to industry estimates, reaching the commission’s ten-million-ton domestic target would require an installed electrolyser capacity of up to 100 GW in Europe, with the ten-million tons of green hydrogen production capacity outside Europe potentially involving electrolyser capacity of as much as 300 GW.
The commission is also committed to doubling the next European Union Emissions Trading System’s Innovation Fund call this autumn for large-scale projects, and has made €3-billion available for additional electrolyser manufacture.
Nel CEO Jon André Løkke describes the new RePowerEU plan as being good news for electrolyser manufacturers and an important milestone for the green hydrogen industry in Europe.
“We expect this will contribute to increased investment activities,” Løkke states in a release to Mining Weekly.
Electrolyser manufacturer Nel has previously communicated an ambition to reach 10 GW production capacity in Europe, Asia and the US by 2025, if required by the market. The Norwegian company has commenced site selection for additional production capacity in Europe.
Consequently, the electrolyser production capacity must be scaled-up significantly, says Nel, which recently opened an automated electrolyser manufacturing plant at Herøya, a peninsula in the Norwegian municipality of Porsgrunn.