Hydrogen could help Europe take control of its energy supply, report says

16 Nov 2022

From left: ESB generation strategy policy manager Catherine Joyce O’Caollai, Pinsent Masons Ireland partner Garrett Monaghan, Gas Networks Ireland head of business development Karen Doyle and Hydrogen Ireland board member Paul McCormack. Image: Shane O’Neill/Coalesce

Hydrogen Ireland said green hydrogen can help Europe achieve ‘commercial flexibility’ by coupling the renewable energy sector and the transport sector.

A new energy market structure is needed to unlock the potential of alternative forms of energy such as green hydrogen.

That’s according to new report by Hydrogen Ireland, in which the organisation argued that green hydrogen can be the catalyst for Europe to take control of its energy supply.

To enable a successful transition to renewable energy, Hydrogen Ireland said Europe needs to look at achieving “full commercial opportunity” in this sector.

“To achieve this, we must ensure commercial flexibility in the coupling of the renewable energy sector and the transport sector,” Hydrogen Ireland said in the report. “The use of Smart H2 (hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources) as an energy carrier to achieve this goal is crucial.”

The organisation said green hydrogen is emerging as one of the most efficient and cleanest fuels possible while also being potentially carbon neutral.

Hydrogen Ireland board member Paul McCormack said green hydrogen can convert energy systems to green alternatives in order to “fully transition to a new zero-carbon energy model”.

“With green hydrogen as a constituent vector we need a different energy market structure, one which will deliver on the renewables opportunity and provide us with renewable capacity and flexibility,” McCormack added.

“We are looking to decouple the old energy model and implement a new integrated energy model that places the customer at the front of the process not at the end.

“This is about nonlinear change in a linear world,” he said. “Disruption, by definition, changes the traditional way of doing things, and accelerates change and transformation, which are both urgently needed in our approach to energy.”

McCormack is the programme manager of the GenComm renewable energy project, which is focused on showing the feasibility of hydrogen technology. Earlier this year, McCormack said Ireland is at the “epicentre of the hydrogen revolution” with a number of national and international projects working in this area.

Hydrogen Ireland plans to present its findings and research at its inaugural conference on 23 and 24 November in Dublin.

There has been a growing demand for Ireland to capitalise on the potential of green hydrogen. Earlier this year, the representative group for the Irish wind energy industry called on the Government to create a hydrogen strategy with a focus on green hydrogen development.

In September, Irish green energy company EIH2 signed a deal with the ports of Cork and Amsterdam to establish a supply chain for green hydrogen between Ireland and the rest of Europe. Earlier that month, ESB and energy company DCarbonX expanded their partnership in green hydrogen storage projects off the coast of Ireland.

Battery storage

Meanwhile, Energy Storage Ireland has called for battery projects to be given market access to help reduce electricity prices.

A new report by the organisation and authored by specialist consultant Baringa claims that Ireland’s electricity bills could be cut by €35m this winter if storage projects are allowed to compete in the wholesale electricity market.

Energy Storage Ireland said letting these projects compete during high electricity demand would reduce Ireland’s dependence on imported fossil fuels and help to protect Irish electricity consumers.

The report said that there is more than 670MW of battery storage capacity installed across Ireland and Northern Ireland. Energy Storage Ireland head Bobby Smith said these back-up systems “can do much more”.

“With no additional investment or structural changes needed for this, change can be actioned immediately to unlock this potential cost saving for households and businesses,” Smith said.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic