Green hydrogen has caught the interest of corporations, governments, and investors due to its ability to bridge the intermittent nature of solar and wind power while also burning like natural gas and acting as fuel in industrial chemical processes. Green hydrogen is created by electrolysis, a technique that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen using renewable energy. It now accounts for just 0.1 percent of worldwide hydrogen generation.
However, the falling costs of renewable power (which accounts for 70% of the cost of creating hydrogen) and electrolysis technology suggest that green hydrogen may be the next greatest investment in the world of clean energy. Green hydrogen is seen as the greatest hope for balancing the intermittent nature of renewables while decarbonizing the energy-hungry industrial, chemical, and transportation sectors by many, including oil and gas operators, big utilities, businesses ranging from steel to fertilizers, and others.
Despite the fact that green hydrogen is gaining popularity across industries, it nevertheless faces a number of obstacles.
Limited understanding of optimal design and return on investment, restricting bankability. Organizations will need to scale up and enhance their green hydrogen plant designs in order to satisfy market demand. However, because of limited market data and low market maturity, optimizing plant designs and end-to-end green hydrogen systems can be expensive and extremely complicated. Furthermore, many of these big green hydrogen facilities are developed within existing industrial clusters, which adds another layer of design to guarantee minimal impact on existing operations throughout the green hydrogen transition.
Inadequate skilled labor and excessive operational costs. While the emergence of green hydrogen will provide a plethora of new job possibilities, many people currently lack the essential training and skills to support the hydrogen economy. A scarcity of skilled personnel will stymie the industry’s growth as it grows. Green hydrogen is also extremely difficult and expensive to store and transport. It is a highly flammable gas with a low volumetric density, necessitating the construction of specific pipelines and carriers.
High energy losses. Green hydrogen loses a significant amount of energy at each stage of the supply chain. During the electrolysis process, approximately 30-35 percent of the energy used to produce hydrogen is lost; liquefying or converting hydrogen to other carriers, such as ammonia, results in a 13-25 percent energy loss; and transporting hydrogen requires additional energy inputs that are typically equal to 10-12 percent of the hydrogen’s own energy. Using hydrogen in fuel cells results in an extra 40–50% energy loss. If not improved, these inefficiencies will necessitate considerable renewable energy deployment to fuel green hydrogen electrolyzers capable of competing with end-use electrification.
Green hydrogen offtakers and their worth. The key issue is determining how to commercialize green hydrogen. To begin with, while cost-effective green hydrogen may be generated in sunny locations (such as Australia, Portugal, Spain, or Tunisia), off-take industries are not always nearby. This necessitates the installation of specialized pipes, with all of the accompanying lead times and expenses. Furthermore, valuing green hydrogen implies assurance of origin certification and conversion to carbon credits; both procedures are still under development and are the topic of heated dispute.
Among increased investment, government support, engineering development, and a skilled workforce, digital technology – particularly artificial intelligence of things (AIoT) – a combination of artificial intelligence and internet of things technology that enables the optimization and automation of systems through enhanced analytics – is one of the critical levers for accelerating the transition to green hydrogen.
Here are four ways where digital technology might assist accelerate the shift to green hydrogen:
Virtual twins. Investors want to know which system design will maximize their return before investing cash. Multiple variables must be considered, from PV to electrolyzer capacity to buffers (such as energy and hydrogen storage). Digital twins can simulate numerous designs and scenarios, incorporating variables like weather, off-takers demand volatility, and local infrastructure (both present and future), optimizing each design to optimize return on investment while minimizing risk. According to estimates, digital twin analysis may reduce risk by 30-50 percent while optimizing capital expenditure (CAPEX) by 10-15%, with just a small change in operational expense (OPEX).
Control and monitoring Energy consumption, plant performance, production rates, purity, and storage are just a few of the key performance indicators (KPI) for hydrogen production that must be visible in order to assure optimal production. AIoT can provide quick anomaly detection through the use of intelligent alarms, sensors on assets to monitor KPIs and asset health, and cloud-based remote monitoring beyond control rooms. Real-time monitoring of plant operations and asset health, combined with remote asset control, may decrease expenses by 10-20% due to lower energy usage and a simplified staff. Using monitoring models that are compatible with design digital twins enables investors to evaluate where they stand in relation to the company plan and take measures to avoid potential losses.
Cutting-edge analytics. Analytics can convert data into actionable business intelligence. In the case of green hydrogen, churning and learning from data from plants, tanks, pipes, energy off-takers, and even the weather, as well as the use of plant–level or fleet–level analytics, can give corrective action suggestions to maximize yields. Energy losses may be avoided by predicting failures and managing electrolyzer uptime, resulting in more revenues and lower OPEX. Using analytics models that are consistent with their digital twins enables investors and bankers to “complete the design loop” and make strategic and tactical decisions to maximize their profits.
Origin certificates By confirming the renewable nature of every used power, the Guarantee of Origin (GoO) is a precondition for monetizing green hydrogen. AIoT-monitored installations may use near real-time data to automate input to GoO issuers, which eliminates manual processing, enhances trust and dependability, and increases future-proofing as more certification moves toward real-time and automation. AIoT can also provide end-to-end traceability of green hydrogen over its full life cycle, from cradle to grave.
Green hydrogen is a low-carbon option for the industrial, chemical, and transportation sectors. AIoT solutions will be important in allowing the transition to green hydrogen and will play a significant part in the global decarbonization drive when combined with greater investment, government backing, engineering breakthroughs, and a trained workforce. We predict that AIoT-enabled solutions can cut CAPEX and OPEX by 15% to 25%, accelerating the commercialization of commercially viable green hydrogen by four to seven years. Perhaps then, important industries, aircraft, and boats might be powered entirely by green hydrogen.