Hydrogen’s moment has arrived, says Electric Power Research Institute President and CEO

Hydrogen’s moment has arrived, says Electric Power Research Institute President and CEO

The moment is here for hydrogen to take its place along the path toward economy-wide decarbonisation, Electric Power Research Institute’s (EPRI) President and CEO told energy regulators this month.

Dr. Arshad Monsoor made the remarks to the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Winter Policy Summit.

“We’ve been talking about [hydrogen] for a long time. It’s always 10 years away. Even 50 years ago, it was 10 years away,” he said.

But now, Mansoor said the media, investors and policymakers are paying more attention to the virtues of hydrogen and its ability to decarbonise the industrial and transportation sectors and “to electrify hard-to-electrify sectors by creating an alternate molecule”.

Mansoor spoke on a panel moderated by NARUC President and Idaho PUC Commissioner Paul Kjellander.

Kjellander moderated the discussion focused on the near-term future of hydrogen and its opportunities to drive the US and global energy transitions.

Other panellists included: celebrated host and Executive Producer of PBS’s White House Chronicle, Llewellyn King; Dr. Laura Nelson, Vice-President of Strategen and Executive Director of the Green Hydrogen Coalition; and Matt Valle, Vice-President of Development at Florida Power & Light.

Panellists acknowledged the need to separate the zeitgeist from reality. They all expressed optimism for hydrogen’s staying power, citing the molecule’s multi-sectoral applicability and decarbonizing potential.

“We are in the midst of this rapidly evolving energy system,” said Nelson, “and we’re seeing increased deployment of renewable energy resources along with lithium-ion batteries.”

Noting the limitations of lithium-ion batteries, Nelson continued, “But when you’re looking at how we’re going to achieve seasonally or multi-day or monthly shifting of energy…we’re really going to need to continue to grow our long-duration energy storage portfolio, and green hydrogen can be an important part of that.

Valle echoed Mansoor’s sentiments that hydrogen is having a moment and is here to stay, sharing that “we [the US electric sector] get excited about it because lots of modelling has been done on renewables plus storage over time and how do you get closer to a zero-carbon system.”

“But where we all run into issues is longer duration storage. And batteries are just not cost-effective…so we see it [hydrogen] as the last 10-20% of what it’s going to take to get to zero-carbon.”

Mansoor and his co-panellists were careful to manage expectations.

“It seems like a silver bullet, but it may not be,” cautioned Valle.

Mansoor pointed to the challenges of cost-effective production of blue and especially green hydrogen, as well as inadequate transportation and delivery infrastructure.

“And this is where the global community has come in,” added Mansoor. “We formed a five-year research [Low-Carbon Resources] initiative last quarter and in just three months 35 global energy companies and manufacturers have together committed $100m in research funding to advance these technologies, to explain and understand the engineering so that this time it’s not just another fad and actually realise the opportunities that hydrogen provides for a deep decarbonized future.”

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