Business: Apply some Scottish innovation to hydrogen sector - Ross B. Shuster

The energy transition is critical to achieving global climate change targets, however, climate change is not the only catalyst for change.

With the current energy price and energy security crisis driven by necessary sanctions placed on Russian gas, many countries, the UK included, are being driven towards accelerating their plans towards a cleaner energy future and security of supply through investments in infrastructure and scale.

The transition of the energy market will be driven by innovation and evolution. It will also spread the demand wider, reducing over-dependence on just one source of energy.

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While there will be numerous technologies that will be key to the energy transition and energy security, renewable hydrogen – produced using energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar – will clearly play an important role. Hydrogen’s versatility is the key to the broad role that it will likely play, with compression and liquefaction vital to the transportation and use of renewable hydrogen.

Ross B. Shuster, Chief Executive Officer, HowdenRoss B. Shuster, Chief Executive Officer, Howden
Ross B. Shuster, Chief Executive Officer, Howden

Hydrogen can be compressed or liquefied for use in fuel cells to power vehicles, blended with natural gas in pipelines and used in traditional combustion-based processes to reduce carbon impact. It can be used as a chemical reactant in industrial processes; converted into ammonia, which then can be used as a chemical or as a fuel; as a reduction agent in “fossil free” production of green steel; and as a reactant in sustainable fuels such as e-methanol.

Hydrogen offers a solution to the often intermittent nature of solar and wind, which has been, together with cost, a significant hurdle in the adoption of renewables. Having the capability and capacity to provide energy storage, and thus balance demand with energy produced by renewable sources, hydrogen will increasingly enter the mainstream energy market.

The expansion and importance of the hydrogen industry is clear through the private investments and public funding that it is receiving around the globe, which are driving the ever-increasing number of renewable hydrogen projects now being seen.

Howden’s expertise in renewable hydrogen is significant and has been successfully applied in numerous high profile development projects. In the United States our compression technology is a vital part of a process which will convert household waste into hydrogen. A technology that will see demand around the world.

A hydrogen pumping station for hydrogen-powered cars in Berlin, Germany (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)A hydrogen pumping station for hydrogen-powered cars in Berlin, Germany (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
A hydrogen pumping station for hydrogen-powered cars in Berlin, Germany (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

In France, we are supporting a project to demonstrate the feasibility of industrial scale underground storage of green hydrogen, which is an important step in establishing the development of the hydrogen economy in Europe. We are also supplying compressors to for the world’s first large scale commercial e-methanol production facility to fuel maritime transportation.

These are just a few of the ground-breaking projects through which we are enabling the energy transition. It is clear Scottish businesses like ours have, and will continue to, play a significant role in the global energy transition.

Core to developing solutions for hydrogen, accelerating the energy transition and securing contracts and commercial benefit for Scottish businesses, is collaboration. We are proud to work with local businesses as suppliers and we always seek partnerships that will bring additional benefit to our community as we invest in R&D.

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As an exemplar for developing solutions for renewable energy, Scotland has an opportunity to be centre stage in bringing innovation and change to the sector. The Scottish Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament has been looking into the hydrogen industry and talking to business about how they can be part of the transition, bringing more jobs and expertise into Scotland. However, it is for businesses themselves to identify how they can be part of the energy transition and accelerate the much-needed change.

Scotland is known the world over for its history of innovation and industrial leadership and if there was ever a time to apply this in order to bring positive change to both business and the world around us, it’s now.

Ross B. Shuster, Chief Executive Officer, Howden

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