The Hydrogen Economy Will Soon Be Ready For Takeoff, Including Planes and Power Plants

At-a-Glance

Does the aviation sector have its head in the clouds? Indeed, the experts are working hard to make hydrogen a sustainable aviation fuel. For more, read The Hydrogen Economy Will Soon Be Ready For Takeoff, Including Planes and Power Plants.

Key Takeaways

  • A study by Clean Sky 2 and Fuel Cells & Hydrogen 2 says that hydrogen-powered aircraft could be ready for flight as early as 2035.
  • The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed a year ago includes up to $7 billion to establish between 6 and 10 regional hydrogen hubs across the country. The goal is to create a network of hydrogen producers and industrial consumers with an interconnected infrastructure to accelerate the use of clean hydrogen.
  • In its Hydrogen Economy Outlook, Bloomberg New Energy Finance says green hydrogen could supply 24% of the world’s energy demands by 2050 while cutting CO2 levels by 34%.
  • To help accelerate the use of green hydrogen, the U.S. Department of Energy is taking an “Earthshot”, launched in June 2021, to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen by 80% to $1 per one kilogram in one decade. Currently, hydrogen from renewable energy costs about $5 per kilogram.
  • The hydrogen hubs will be essential to achieving economies of scale, bringing about price parity and driving adoption.

Path to 100% Perspective

Hydrogen is one of several potential future fuels that can help phase out fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy as part of the final push to decarbonize energy systems. At the moment, hydrogen is the most promising candidate of the P2X fuel for power plants. Hydrogen is carbon-free, has the highest production energy efficiency of the P2X fuels, and with time it is predicted to become the most cost competitive due to low renewable electricity prices. The most sustainable form of hydrogen is green hydrogen, which is produced through electrolysis of water utilizing renewable electricity. Important for green hydrogen production is access to renewable electricity and clean water. Locations with favorable conditions for these will become hydrogen production hubs.

Deep Geothermal – One Renewable Energy Source to Rule Them All?

At-a-Glance

Deep geothermal technologies, such as the gyrotron, may be the key to harnessing the heat stored below the Earth’s crust to make abundant zero emissions energy. For more, read Deep Geothermal – One Renewable Energy Source to Rule Them All?

Key Takeaways

  • Gyrotrons, which produce high power beams, are currently used in fusion research. Paul Woskov, an MIT researcher, has posed the idea of using the technology to drill geothermal wells that can reach the Earth’s mantle.
  • MIT spinoff Quaise Energy received a grant from the Department of Energy to scale up Woskov’s lab experiments using a larger gyrotron. The goal is to vaporize a hole 100 times the depth of Woskov’s current experiments by sometime next year.
  • Quaise Energy plans to start harvesting energy from pilot geothermal wells that reach rock temperatures at up to 500°C by 2026. The team then hopes to begin repurposing coal and natural gas generating plants using its system.
  • Many of the skills developed over the past century by the oil and gas industry are readily transferable to deep geothermal, meaning that a ready-made, well-trained workforce is already available. Current fossil fuel infrastructure can be readily repurposed to rapidly advance geothermal energy.

Path to 100% Perspective

A variety of technologies will have a role to play along the Path to 100%. Deep geothermal is an emerging technology that can help ease the transition. What makes this technology exciting is that it’s compatible with existing thermal power plants, which can be converted to run on steam instead of coal and natural gas. Building conditions to enable investment in thermal balancing power plants is a key step to frontloading net zero and adding geothermal energy is one way to make this possible. There are many other renewable sources in use today that are the subject of scale-up research and expanded deployment, including ocean energy, bioenergy, and renewable synthetic fuels from Power-to-X (P2X). Ocean, biomass, and geothermal are not forecast to get to the scale that solar and wind could reach, but all are important. All of these technologies are part of the analysis and discussion around the transition to a 100% renewable energy future.