It will do the economy, particularly the energy industry, a whole lot of good if the government start to take steps toward developing a comprehensive national policy and roadmap on hydrogen energy.
This, according to energy think-tank Institute of Energy Security (IES), could stimulate capital spending on new infrastructure, give impetus to the drive for a greener economy and spur sustainable economic growth and development post the pandemic era.
“Looking at the immense benefits such as decarbonisation, competitiveness and economic recovery, to be derived from hydrogen, the country must formally recognize the role of hydrogen in its national energy and climate plan,” IES’ Executive Director, Nana Amoasi VII told the B&FT.
Compellingly, he said the falling cost of renewable energy coupled with EU’s plan to import most of its hydrogen in the future, present a great chance for Ghana to get on the front foot in the green energy race, adding that “after all, Ghana is noted for its rich solar and wind resources.”
“The time is therefore ripe for Ghana to lay down a national strategy, aimed at accelerating the development of clean hydrogen. The country must have explicit hydrogen-related objectives, choosing areas of focus, be it for transport (such as fuel cell vehicles and fuel cell technology), agriculture (fertilizer production) and industry (such as cement and steel),” he said.
Globally, hydrogen plays a vital role as a storage medium that has both the highest capacity and the longest energy release time. Added benefits includes hydrogen being converted efficiently into electricity and used flexibly for domestic energy supply. The overarching expectation is that hydrogen would play a key role in a future climate-neutral economy, enabling emission-free transport, heating and industrial processes, and aside inter-seasonal energy storage.
Intrinsically, rather than being wasted, renewables’ energy surplus can be used to produce hydrogen from water through a process called electrolysis, which can then be stored, transported and processed for a growing range of applications.
Added to this, IES said in the new green economy, the approach should include the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier to store large amounts of surplus renewable energy for long periods of time― and even to export renewable energy to different geographies. This is based on the understanding that, “without long-term storage, additional renewable capacity above a certain threshold would not be efficient to build.”
“It is for these reasons, that some local communities and regional governments are also introducing hydrogen policies, as triggered by the national funding promises. Others are even more eager now to seek new grounds to stimulate local gross domestic product growth,” Nana Amoasi VII said.
Traditionally sourced from natural gas and coal, hydrogen, he explained, would continue to play important roles in industries that contributes highly to GDP and that shifting dynamics in the global renewable power market is pushing the green hydrogen to the forefront.
For instance, several countries in Europe and Asia hydrogen policies have touched up the significance of green hydrogen to industries such as steel, agriculture, cement, and transportation.
“In Ghana, the zero-subsidy renewable energy market and over-capacity power issues could stimulate new demonstrations in that direction. Government is presented with a huge opportunity in stimulating capital spending on new infrastructure, which establishes hydrogen as one of the new energy sectors,” the energy expert and traditional leader said.
For the country to be positioned to take advantage of the global craze for hydrogen energy however, he said the government must first show commitments that it is more serious on renewable energy development.
“There have been several attempts by the private sector to explore the country’s untapped potential in renewable energies. Nevertheless, the Government of Ghana has not exuded the needed support for these projects, to make the country a renewable energy hub. Certainly, it would take the penetration of more renewable energy capacity to open the door for the hydrogen agenda. As a result, there must be clear evidence of the significant number of policies and government-led programmes regarding renewable energy.”
He further reiterated that it will only take a strong policy signal to trigger intense investment and business activity relating to hydrogen in the country. “Giving the right policies, strategies and roadmaps centered on the hydrogen, the private sector would cause a hydrogen economy to emerge, with transportation, gas storage, and refueling stations et cetera serving as cornerstone. There is also the areas of fuel cell technology development and equipment manufacturing related to green infrastructure building to explore.”