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Today, the transition to a third industrial revolution requires technologies for mass production of renewable energy, IoT, smart grids, green mobility technologies but also efficient storage facilities. As a matter of fact, Hydrogen is an element with valuable properties that could solve all the issues related to the use of intermittent energy. This is why it’s interesting to emphasize this element and its properties.

This second part of our article about Hydrogen (read the first part of the article) focuses on the market players.

H2 the missing block to move to a sustainable energy system ?

Hydrogen shows a good potential as:

  • It is a clean energy vector if produced through clean energy
  • It offers a significant flexibility in terms of production sources and methods (many start-ups are working on hydrogen technologies in order to decrease cost production) as shown on the value chain illustrated in the graph below.

Besides, thanks to its liquefaction properties, hydrogen could be easily stored and transported. Driven by clean energy applications in power production as well as mobility, the liquid hydrogen demand is rising. However, this solution is still expensive compared to the classic gas storage.

Thanks to all its properties, Hydrogen could fix all the issues previously enumerated and could be summarized on the graph below (from power plants to clients):

  1. Balancing the intermittent output of the renewable generation
  2. Compensation the renewable over/under production in a micro grid structure
  3. Storing energy for mobility (fuel cells)
  4. Grid balance

Hydrogen market driven by start-ups worldwide:

We are witnessing a boom of start-ups these last 5 years in the field of hydrogen in order to make this technology competitive. Many start-ups are emerging and developing new technologies to generate and produce it in order to reduce overall costs throughout the chain value.

value chain, hydrogen

Six leader countries in terms of start-up and SME* launching on the hydrogen market could be emphasized: France, UK, USA, Italy, Israel and Germany. However, it remains a niche market that might grow significantly in the few next years through industrialization of new methods.It is projected to grow at a value CAGR of 6.1% throughout the period of assessment, to reach a market value of more than US$ 200 Bn by end of 2025 (1).

We represent some of those emerging start-ups on the chain value classified by country (BearingPoint Study).

value chain per country, hydrogen

Today start-ups are working on the 4 identified axes of the value chain with innovative ideas. Several examples are listed in the table below.

Hydrogen production

Hydrogen Transport and distribution

Hydrogen storage Applications

HySiLabs : hydrogen-based liquid carrier system that releases hydrogen on-demand and consumes it directly for a wide range of applications (2)

 

GreenEver : producing H2 using micro algae(3)

 

 

 

 

                       H2

 

Hydrogenious Technologies : Hydrogen transport through the LOHC form (high density form)

 

 

 

 

 

                          

McPhy : high density hydrogen storage at a low pression(4)

 

Hysilabs : H2 transformation process to liquid form (5)

 

MAHYTEC : solid state H2 storage (hydrides) (6)

 

                

PowiDian : Smart autonomous station to produce and store energy

 

Hype : Hydrogen taxis service actually developed in Paris (7)

 

Bike Berri: Hydrogen electric assistance for bikes (recharged using H2 capsules)(8)

          

 

France as one of those leaders with more than 20 SMEs and start-ups working on:

  • Hydrogen for a green mobility (i.e Symbio)
  • New Hydrogen storage methods (i.e McPhy)
  • Micro grids storage (i.e Powidian)

 Besides, many large groups are also interested in developing hydrogen technologies such as Alstom, ENGIE, Total, Air Liquide and EDF (9)

SWOT matrix for today hydrogen market:

Internal to the market External to the market

Strengths

Strenghts

Weaknesses

Threats

Threats

Opportunities

Opportunities

  • Hydrogen is a clean storage solution compared to existing batteries (while used as a fuel; H2 production still controversial)
  • Hydrogen could be produced through several methods (chemical process, micro algae, renewable energies, etc)
  • Flexibility of hydrogen (easy conversion into electricity)
  • Hydrogen Production costs : The cost highly depends on the solution i.e produced from green energy or from fossil fuel. However, it still important compared to other energy storage systems
  • Low storage efficiency around 30%(10)(charge/discharge ratio)
  • Safety especially for the mobility application as hydrogen is more inflammable and volatile than gasoline (11)
  • Technology maturity
  • Competitiveness versus other energy storage systems (i.e for the mobility application against electrical cars)
  • Hydrogen market is decorrelated  from the fossil markets
  • Massive support worldwide for this market such as : USA, japan
  • International policies toward this solution such as the EU support of 470 million between 2007 and 2013.
  • Public-private partnership to push the market investments  and reduce technologies costs. As an example, the HyFLEET project was managed by 31 partners from industry, Government, academic and consulting organisations (12).

Takeways:

  • Among the existing storage means, hydrogen is considered as the miracle solution for a greener future.
  • Thanks to its properties, this energy carrier could be the solution for the major issues of the next energy transition (grid balance, renewable intermittency, compensation, energy transportation, etc).
  • Today this solution is still expensive due to the existing production, transport and storage methods cost. Additionally, there still issues regarding the security for a mobility use.
  • However, many start-ups, are innovating to find new ways to produce, transport and use hydrogen today that could make it competitive in the coming years.

* small and medium-sized enterprise: with less than 250 employees
** LCOS: levelized cost of storage

Authors

Amal Abid, Consultant
Anthony Dos Reis, Manager