Smart hydrogen white paper unveils vision for revolutionary energy project

9 Apr 2018

Concept hydrogen car built by Toyota. Image: Ekachai Sathittaweechai/Shutterstock

NUI Galway and 10 other European partners have launched a white paper detailing how they will find a way to produce hydrogen energy without needing help from fossil fuels.

When it comes to the development of new renewable energy, one of the most discussed options of recent years has been hydrogen fuel. Once producible in large quantities at an affordable cost, hydrogen fuel would allow for cars to run cleanly and only emit water vapour.

The major irony with current hydrogen fuel production, though, is that 95pc of all hydrogen is produced from fossil resources, making it only a partially clean technology.

Future Human

However, a team of 11 European researchers partners, including NUI Galway and Belfast Metropolitan College, has launched the first of its white papers for the ‘smart hydrogen’ concept, which will be a renewable and low-emission alternative to fossil fuels, with low impact on natural resources throughout its entire life cycle.

The GenComm project has a budget of almost €10m – of which more than half is coming from the EU – and will validate the maturity of hydrogen technology by implementing three pilot plants.

These will link the main north-west European renewable sources – solar, wind and bioenergy – with energy storage and the main forms of energy demand.

“The use of smart hydrogen as an energy carrier can mitigate these challenges by helping match energy demand with renewable energy supply, while enabling flexibility between the mixed uses of renewable energy,” said Paul McCormack, GenComm programme manager and innovation manager at Belfast Met.

“The partners in the GenComm project are working to overcome these challenges through the creation of technical and economic models, and an investment decision support tool that can technically and financially optimise the production and commercialisation of smart hydrogen.”

Adding to this, Dr Rory Monaghan from NUI Galway said: “The white paper aims to inform stakeholders in the energy industry and local communities about the potential for hydrogen to address issues of intermittency, curtailment, profitability and energy security in renewable energy networks.

“Hydrogen is increasingly viewed as a practical way to store electricity and give it new uses, such as in transportation.”

Concept hydrogen car built by Toyota. Image: Ekachai Sathittaweechai/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic