What is Green Hydrogen?

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A significant clean energy solution, green hydrogen is a sustainable fuel produced through electrolysis using renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and hydropower.

Green hydrogen is a clean, sustainable energy carrier poised to reshape the global energy landscape. It is attained through a production process that does not create harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

The production and utilisation of green hydrogen significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create renewable jobs, and strengthen energy security.

As part of Australia’s National Hydrogen Strategy, green hydrogen will help the Government achieve net zero emissions by 2030. By leveraging renewable resources to generate hydrogen, Australia can reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, mitigate environmental impacts, and serve as an efficient energy carrier.

Green hydrogen will help Australia become one of the major global players in the clean hydrogen industry by 2030.

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What is green hydrogen and how is it obtained?

Green hydrogen is a fuel produced using renewable energy rather than fossil fuels. Unlike conventional methods that often rely on fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases, green hydrogen is environmentally friendly and sustainable.

It is extracted from water through electrolysis and powered by renewable sources such as wind, solar, and hydropower. Electrolysis involves using an electric current to break down water molecules into their constituent elements, hydrogen and oxygen. It eliminates carbon emissions at the point of production and is the most sustainable production method, making it crucial in transitioning to a low-carbon economy.

There are two other ways of obtaining green hydrogen, including molecular transformation and gasification. Molecular transformation involves reforming natural gas extracted from oil fields. In this process, high-temperature water vapour separates hydrogen and carbon within the natural gas. Gasification occurs when water vapour and pure oxygen are carried out with coal or biomass. A high-temperature reactor burns it and releases the gases to produce carbon monoxide and dihydrogen.

Stored hydrogen is directed from specialised tanks into a fuel cell to convert into energy. In the fuel cell, electricity is obtained by recombining the oxygen from the air, which makes water the only product of the process.

Importance of green hydrogen

Green hydrogen is significant in the ongoing global shift towards sustainable energy solutions and has been described as the future’s fuel. It has the potential to decarbonise various sectors, including industry, transportation, and energy storage. Its ability to store excess renewable energy makes it valuable in achieving energy security and transitioning from fossil fuel dependence.

How does green hydrogen work?

Infrastructure industry

Green hydrogen is crucial in providing a clean alternative to conventional fossil fuels in the infrastructure industry. It acts as sustainable fuel source in heavy industries such as steel, cement, and chemicals, where decarbonisation is challenging. Green hydrogen can power industrial processes without emitting carbon dioxide by replacing or blending with traditional fuels.

Land transport

Green hydrogen’s role as a fuel is pivotal in decarbonising transport. In land transport, where inexpensive yet highly polluting fuels are common, green hydrogen emerges as an efficient alternative for rail and heavy goods transport by road.

Energy storage

Due to its extended volume and lifespan, green hydrogen can function as an energy storage system. The stored renewable hydrogen can then be strategically deployed to support the electricity grid during periods of high demand.

Types of hydrogen fuel

Hydrogen fuels are categorised into different colours based on the production methods.

Green hydrogen fuel

Green hydrogen is the most environmentally friendly and sustainable type of hydrogen. It is produced through water electrolysis, where renewable energy sources like solar, wind, or hydropower are used to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. This process is entirely emissions-free and is the cleanest hydrogen.

Grey hydrogen fuel

Grey hydrogen is derived from natural gas through steam methane reforming, where high-temperature water vapour separates hydrogen from carbon. However, this method releases carbon dioxide, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Grey hydrogen is the most used today, prompting exploration into cleaner alternatives.

Blue hydrogen fuel

Blue hydrogen shares its production method with grey hydrogen, relying on natural gas and steam methane reforming. However, the key distinction lies in integrating carbon capture and storage technologies, preventing carbon dioxide emissions. This makes blue hydrogen a transitional solution, reducing environmental impact compared to grey hydrogen while maintaining some reliance on fossil fuels.

Turquoise hydrogen fuel

When natural gas is broken down into solid carbon and hydrogen, turquoise hydrogen is produced. Solid carbon can potentially be stored or utilised, addressing the carbon emissions associated with traditional hydrogen production. It is an emerging hydrogen combining both blue and green hydrogen production.  

Brown and Black hydrogen fuel

Brown and black hydrogen are produced through coal gasification. It is a process used across many industries that converts carbon-rich materials into carbon dioxide. These two types of hydrogen are considered the least environmentally friendly among the hydrogen colours due to their reliance on coal.

Types of renewable energy sources for green hydrogen production

Green hydrogen production relies on various renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, hydropower, and geothermal.

Solar Energy

Solar energy captured by photovoltaic panels powers water electrolysis, splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. This method harnesses the abundant sunlight to produce green hydrogen without emitting carbon dioxide, providing a key pathway to decarbonise various sectors.

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Wind Energy

Wind energy relies on the kinetic energy of moving air to generate electricity through wind turbines. Large onshore and offshore wind farms harness the power of the wind to generate electricity for regional grids.

Wind Farms across Australia

Wind power has witnessed substantial growth as a reliable and scalable source of clean energy, especially in Australia. The country is home to numerous wind farms. As the demand for sustainable energy solutions grows, wind farms across Australia play an even more significant role in providing clean, renewable energy.

Everything you need to know about wind farms

Below are some of Australia’s most significant wind farm projects.

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Hydropower

Hydropower is generated from flowing water and presents a reliable and established source for green hydrogen production. Whether through traditional dams or innovative run-of-river systems, the energy from moving water can power electrolysers, contributing to the development of sustainable hydrogen solutions.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy harnesses the Earth’s internal heat for electricity generation and heating applications. In the renewable energy sector, geothermal power plants tap into the Earth’s subsurface to access steam or hot water reservoirs. Geothermal power not only provides a stable source of electricity but also supports district heating systems.

Is hydrogen harmful to the environment?

Green hydrogen is not harmful to the environment and is considered one of the most environmentally friendly forms of hydrogen.

While green hydrogen significantly reduces carbon emissions, it faces challenges, including high production costs and substantial energy consumption during electrolysis. The infrastructure required for large-scale green hydrogen production involves significant upfront investments from the Government and private investors.

Additionally, safety concerns arise due to the flammable nature of hydrogen, necessitating careful handling and storage measures. Moreover, the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources may lead to fluctuations in green hydrogen production.

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What green hydrogen does to help society

Green hydrogen’s ease of storage and transportability make it an efficient energy carrier. It is also a 100% sustainable fuel, which is produced through water electrolysis and released into water vapour upon use.

It has the capacity to transform into electricity and offer a clean and scalable solution for sectors such as transportation, roads, buildings, and more.

Green hydrogen plays a significant role in transitioning to sustainable and low-carbon energy solutions. Its ease of storage, transportability, and conversion into clean energy make it an efficient energy carrier. With the Australian Government’s continuous investments and ongoing commitments, green hydrogen offers a promising pathway to a greener and more resilient future.


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