By Roba Aljohani
Hydrogen is the energy source of the moment, and companies worldwide are waking up to its multiple uses. From enabling mobility through hydrogen-fuelled vehicles to reducing carbon emissions, significant investment in research and development is uncovering its full potential.
However, as a relatively new enabler of renewable energy, people are still trying to understand the complexities of the production process. Today, 96% of the world’s hydrogen production is generated by fossil fuels, and only 4% is produced from the ‘greener’ process of electrolysis. Meanwhile, green hydrogen – hydrogen from renewable energy through electrolysis – is not yet widely adopted. With challenges around cost, efficiency and market availability to overcome, can we really rely it as a go-to source in the near future?
At The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC), we have bold ambitions to be the world’s first regenerative tourism destination. To achieve this, our development will be self-sufficient with an off-grid energy strategy that maximises the use of renewable technologies. The entire site will be powered by renewable energy generated from solar and wind, 24 hours a day, a promise enabled by the creation of the world’s largest battery storage facility. In theory, green hydrogen as a power source is a viable option for us; the electricity comes from a renewable energy source such as wind, hydropower, or solar energy. Our sustainability principles are embedded throughout every part of the project, and we are continually researching and exploring new processes which are considerate of the natural environment.
However, when comparing green hydrogen to battery-electric technology, this method still has some way to go when it comes to investment vs efficiencies. Currently, battery-electric technology is more advanced and widely adopted. For instance, hydrogen vehicles are still significantly more expensive when compared to battery electric vehicles, and there is much less market availability. The same issue is more prevalent in marine and aviation where hydrogen vehicles are even less developed.
Taking a closer look at energy output, and electric technology is still more efficient than hydrogen. The process of electrolysis to create green hydrogen is labour intensive and only 75% efficient. Further energy is then lost when the gas is compressed, chilled and transported so by the time you reach the end result a considerable amount of energy is lost.
It is clear that hydrogen as an energy source is still in its infancy, but with ongoing collaboration between suppliers and learnings shared across sectors, this could very well change. Battery technology is a prime example of how the development of new solutions can serve age-old problems; just look at the exponential growth of electric vehicles in the last five years.
At TRSDC, our beautiful site is our most prized possession, and we’re continually looking for new, proven ways to protect and enhance it. Who is to say that next week there couldn’t be a breakthrough in the hydrogen production process, putting it in the top spot as a serious option for us? Until then, we’re keeping our eyes peeled for the next innovation.