HYDROGEN has long been touted as a clean alternative to fossil fuels. Now, as major economies prepare green investments to kick start growth, advocates are pushing to put the niche energy into the mainstream of a post-pandemic world.
In early May, International Energy Agency (IEA, 國際能源署) head Fatih Birol said green hydrogen technology was “ready for the big time” and urged governments to channel investments into the fuel.
Some countries, including the Netherlands (荷蘭), Australia (澳洲) and Portugal (葡萄牙), have already begun investing in the technology.
Now investors, politicians and businesses are urging the European Union (歐盟) and others to use their post-crisis recovery plans to support hydrogen in areas like trucking and heavy industry.
Proponents noted that hydrogen could replace fossil fuels in sectors that cannot otherwise meet EU’s emission reduction targets.
The promise of hydrogen as a fuel to help power vehicles and energy plants has been a talking point since the 1970s, but it is currently too expensive for widespread use.
Proponents say infrastructure investment and more demand from transport, gas grids and industry will bring the cost down.
Most hydrogen used today is extracted from natural gas in a process that produces carbon emissions, which defeats the object for many policymakers.
But there is potential to extract ‘green’ hydrogen from water with electrolysis – an energy-intensive but carbon-free process – if powered by renewable electricity.
Hydrogen strategies of governments including Germany (德國), Britain (英國), Australia and Japan (日本), have picked up pace during the pandemic.
(This article is published on Junior Standard on 21 May 2020)
International Energy Agency
Hydrogen: a renewable energy perspective