Hydrogen-based e-fuels to accelerate energy transition

Hydrogen is anticipated to be a game changer in the global transition to sustainable energy by offering fuel cells, alternative propulsion systems, and renewable power, according to new GlobalData research.

With the capability to serve as a long-term, large-scale clean energy storage medium that aids power generation from renewable sources, hydrogen, and hydrogen-based e-fuels, are reaping the benefits of an unprecedented political and business momentum, states GlobalData.

Kiran Raj, Practice Head of Disruptive Tech at GlobalData, said while the race is on for a Net Zero economy, hydrogen jumps to the top of the global agenda.

“Several nations, corporations, energy enterprises, and startups have realised that now is the time to scale up technologies and bring down costs to tap into the hydrogen potential. New developments should materialize at par with accelerating hydrogen production, revising regulations, developing charging infrastructure, using existing gas infrastructure, and establishing shipping routes to take full advantage of the momentum.”

Shagun Sachdeva, Project Manager of Disruptive Tech at GlobalData, said growing technology innovations around hydrogen-based e-fuels and number of demonstration projects have enabled building a sustainable future in sectors that cannot be electrified directly, such as long-distance aviation, feedstock in chemical production, steel production, and potentially high-temperature industrial processes.

She said, “At the same time, easier storage, and transportation than electricity or pure hydrogen along with being energy-efficient and cost-effective solution has seen rise in popularity of hydrogen-based e-fuels.”

GlobalData’s FutureTech Series report, Hydrogen: key disruptive forces for global transition to sustainable energy, highlights over 40 disruptive forces in hydrogen as emerging, accelerating, and maturing innovation areas based on their rate of growth in innovation.

Hydrogen-based e-fuels support ‘game-changing’ use cases across transportation, pulp & paper, power, and shipping sector in terms of long-haul freight and heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs).

In September, Amazon signed an agreement with renewable fuels technology company Infinium to power its transportation fleet with ultra-low carbon e-fuels derived from green hydrogen and recycled carbon waste.

In July, The Navigator Company and Germany-based developer P2X-Europe announced a JV to produce e-fuels based on green hydrogen and biogenic CO2. The strategic partnership enables Navigator to add value to biogenic CO2 from its sustainable forest and pulp & paper production as well as P2X-Europe’s parent companies H&R Group and Mabanaft to scale up market supplies to the chemical sector and non-fossil, green jet fuel for the aviation industry.

Porsche announced its plan to invest $75 million in HIF Global, a holding company of internationally active project developers of eFuel production facilities, in April, in line with its plan to electrify 80% of its model lineup by 2030.

Sachdeva said despite advances in the hydrogen-based technologies, challenges such as optimal regulatory conditions, slow infrastructure development, repurposing of existing pipelines, limited cross-sector collaborations, and associated technical problems may arise due to the technology being relatively new, causing inefficiencies for operators, holding back its widespread adoption.

“Given such challenges are addressed, diverse potential applications can help hydrogen-based e-fuels transpiring into maximised climate benefit,” she said.

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