Wind energy is still 25.5 GW short of powering green hydrogen by 2030July 6, 2022
EU steel producers are interested in clean H2 but point to a shortage of renewable energy.
Even though steel producers in the European Union are interested in green hydrogen as a clean way to power their operations, wind energy is far from adequate to meet H2 production requirements.
The green steel industry would require 150TWh of renewable energy by 2030.
Half of the 150 TWh of renewable energy would be needed specifically for the production of the green hydrogen, said the industry. This means that H2 production for green steel manufacturing would consume more than half of the wind energy capacity increase target in the European Union’s REPowerEU package, according to estimates released by both the wind and steel making industries.
Therefore, green steel makers in the European Union are now calling for the installation of at least 31 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030 in order to support their transition to lower-carbon steel production. Half of that would be for the production of renewable H2.
Green hydrogen is a central part of the steel industry’s strategy for decarbonization, which currently comprises 7.2 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
Wind energy is needed to power green hydrogen production with carbon emission-free electricity.
The steel industry is focusing heavily on green hydrogen for its decarbonization because it is currently the only viable greenhouse gas emission-free energy option currently available to replace the high-emission natural gas and coke that are used to power the process of removing oxygen from iron ore. That said, there are two other electric processes under development by major organizations to provide more options, electrowinning and molten oxide electrolysis.
In steelmaking, other high-temperature processes can also be powered by electric-arc furnaces powered by renewable energy. The electrolyzers in the EU used to produce green hydrogen must be powered by renewable power such as solar or wind energy. According to Eurofer, a WindEurope trade body representing EU steel producers, an additional 31 to 49 GW of new onshore and offshore wind capacity above what is already installed. To power the green hydrogen production processes alone, 31 GW would be needed.
A possible solution would be floating wind power, as it could be installed on every body of water not deeper than, say, 200 m (i.e. practically all of the Baltic, some 80% of the North Sea, and on large areas of continental shelf off the west coast of Ireland, the UK, and France. Aside of the already existing models of wind power units, further ones should be developed, preferably with the rotor on the lee (!) side of the mast (as this would make it possible for the unit to bend/incline with the wind, use stronger winds, and do with less ballast for keeping the mast sufficiently upright). Storage of temporary surpluses of energy e.g. in the form of heat (molten silicon?), which can be re-transformed into electricity in various ways (e.g. radiation elements, but also by Stirling engine or similar).