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Why hydrogen?

Why should hydrogen be considered for the clean energy transition? Learn about some of hydrogen's suitable characteristics.
Clear glass world globe sitting on moss with CO2 icon above it and arrows pointing down
© Deakin University

How can hydrogen assist in clean energy?

Hydrogen is generally known as a clean source of energy because when it is used as a fuel, either through burning or using in a fuel cell to produce electricity, it produces water as a by-product and no greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. This is the reason why hydrogen is emerging as an important part of the clean energy transition. Hydrogen is a versatile fuel that can be used to generate electricity, power vehicles and to produce heat, as well as help reduce carbon emissions when used in industrial processes such as ammonia and steel production.

Hydrogen itself is not an energy source in the same way that fossil fuels are. Coal and natural gas, for example, are primary sources of energy that are extracted from the earth and used directly as fuel. Although it is commonly known as the most abundant element on earth, hydrogen in a usable form is not naturally occurring and it must be made or produced. This is because it is typically found in molecules such as water and hydrocarbons where the hydrogen element is attached to other elements. Energy is required to separate it from the other elements to make hydrogen in a usable form.

For example, hydrogen can be produced using renewable electricity generated from wind or solar power, but the energy itself comes from these primary sources rather than from hydrogen. Hydrogen is thus considered an energy carrier in that it can be used to store and transport energy from one place to another.

It is important to note, that the production and distribution of hydrogen requires significant amounts of energy and the current methods of producing hydrogen are not all clean; most of the world’s global hydrogen stocks are produced from coal and natural gas processes that generate high CO2 emissions.

To fully realise the potential of hydrogen as a clean energy carrier it must be produced in a cleaner low-carbon form, either by capturing and storing the carbon produced when hydrogen is made from fossil fuels, or via electrolysis (extracting hydrogen from water using electricity) using renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydro power.

Your task

Hydrogen can not always be considered clean; what are your thoughts on hydrogen as an energy source?

© Deakin University
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The Role of Hydrogen in the Clean Energy Transition

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