Russia’s recent decision to cut fossil fuel supplies to Europe has served as a platform to reopen the debate on renewable energies and their enormous energy and ecological potential. In this discussion, hydrogen has taken relevance as one of the most promising options to solve, in the short and medium term, part of the energy problems facing humanity.
What is Green Hydrogen and How Can It Help Smart Cities?
By Gabriel E. Levy B.
The Spanish portal specialized in renewable energies Compañías de Luz states that green hydrogen is a highly efficient type of fuel with much less impact on the planet, which comes mainly from renewable energies such as solar, wind or hydraulic energy, and is obtained through a physical process called electrolysis. This process consists of applying a specific electric current to water to separate the oxygen and hydrogen molecules through a controlled reaction.
The mechanism for obtaining hydrogen has a minimal carbon footprint, making decarbonization economically viable: the costs of producing renewable energy have fallen. The portal explains that this is due to advances in the production processes and in the technology involved in these processes.
Green Hydrogen in Facts
Global demand for green hydrogen is forecast to reach 17.87% by 2025 and up to 61% by 2050. The global turnover of the green hydrogen sector is estimated at $16.54 billion in 2025, growing at a rate of 56.3% per year. It is estimated that by 2050, green hydrogen will be used in sectors such as construction, mobility, the chemical industry and as a light and heat generator. It is also expected that its production costs can be reduced by more than 60 % by 2030, which would also bring its price down to USD 1.6 per kg.
Spain is a Benchmark for Green Hydrogen
According to a report prepared by Wood Mackenzie, Spain currently has 20% of the world’s green hydrogen projects, behind only the United States, which has more than half. Among them is the HyDeal Ambition project, a leading initiative in the global context aimed at creating the necessary infrastructure for the production and transportation of green hydrogen in Spain. In this context, in 2021, the Spanish government launched a three-year 1.5-billion-euro aid plan to promote projects in the sector
The Fuel Problem in Europe
Under the pretext of technical problems in the Nord Stream gas pipeline, Russia decided to cut off indefinitely the gas supply to the European continent, being Germany the most damaged country due to its high dependence on fuels of Russian origin.
The decision of this cut-off comes within the framework of a package of tough sanctions against Russia by the West, as a consequence of the war that Vladimir Putin, Russia’s supreme leader, has decided to wage against Ukraine, which has already been going on for several months.
A newspaper report in Spain’s El País assured that “Russian gas supply will be completely suspended until the problems in the operation of a turbine that is part of the gas pipeline equipment are eliminated”. However, the same report claims that Siemens Energy, supplier of Nord Stream’s turbines, “has assured that there are no technical reasons to stop the pipeline, as this type of leak does not affect the operability of a turbine and can be sealed in situ as part of a routine process. The German company has added that the compressor at the affected station has other turbines that would allow it to continue operating.”
Renewable Energies in the Context of Smartcities
Given Europe’s high dependence on fossil fuels, the significant progress made in digital transformation to turn its cities into smart city models, and the commitments made on environmental issues in various pacts endorsed in multiple multilateral scenarios, hydrogen emerges as the best alternative in the short and medium term to replace traditional fuels. Green hydrogen, combined with solar and wind energy, can guarantee the energy autonomy and independence that Europe so badly needs.
In conclusion, given the current energy crisis in Europe, green hydrogen could become the best option to meet the continent’s needs, while significantly boosting the digital transformation processes of cities, accelerating their move towards smart cities.
 El País. (September 2, 2022). Russia against gas to Europe via Nord Stream indefinitely. Available at: https://elpais.com/internacional/2022-09-02/rusia-cierra-indefinidamente-el-gasoducto-nord-stream.html